The head of Italy's bishops sees transparency in money-handling as one of the keys to the Church's credibility and a source of joy for parishioners who can track where their charity dollars are going.
Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa, the president of the Italian Bishops' Conference, spoke at an Italian convention for diocesan finance workers on Feb. 15. The focus of the meeting was to promote learning to help others through "co-responsibility and transparency" in the Church.
During his address, Cardinal Bagnasco put particular emphasis on "the absolutely decisive importance of transparency" in society today.
“When we speak of transparency, it doesn't just mean highlighting honesty and correctness ... but a clear administration of assets that can be verified by all,” he said.
According to the cardinal, the success of donations to the Church depends on the ability of all the faithful to track its use.
It is not just about having a clean image on the exterior, he said, but exhibiting “true transparency” in fidelity to the vocation and mission of the Church, he said.
“The credibility of the Church is never damaged by the clarity of her behavior,” said Cardinal Bagnasco. In fact, transparency in finances will aid fundraising because people will know what they are working towards, he explained.
He said that it is “essential and necessary” for all people to have access to financial statements and budgets as well as the total amount of offerings. In this way, parishioners “will be more motivated and aware of the importance of their economic sharing.”
“If this real transparency exists in every parish, the faithful will no longer look at the offering as a type of duty, but donating will become a great joy because each will live with the satisfaction of doing something good and concrete,” thus opening them up further to the needs of the Church elsewhere, he said.
The cardinal called the laity and clergy to a greater shared responsibility for this to make it local practice.
“In the Church,” he concluded, “no one can say, 'it doesn't concern me'. No one can call think of themselves as outside of this family, none must feel (they are) in the margins ... all of us are active protagonists.”