For example, an operating parish council is recommended in canon law, but not required; a functioning finance council is mandatory for a parish, not only by diocesan policy, but by the laws of the Catholic church. To comply with these important laws, I immediately formed a finance council at St. Mark’s, which includes members from our four faith communities. (Holy Trinity, as a separate parish, may request a separate finance council meeting with me, should their two representatives ever wish to do so.) A typical reason for having an Ombudsman who knows the policies and insists on their enforcement occurred in the case of Holy Trinity, which had not been informed years ago that a priest does not receive a salary from each community he serves. Rather, each priest, pastor, or parish administrator according to diocesan policy receives one pay check monthly, with the amount completely regulated by diocesan policy. A priest with multiple parishes or missions does not receive any extra payment for this duty, as a priest with a very large parish does not receive extra payment, either. Parishioners, or at least finance council/Ombudsman, such know these policies and assure that they are faithfully followed. Furthermore, the claim that the pastor is underpaid, and therefore in need of “supplemental income” from his parishes is simply false. In addition to our annual salary, we receive housing, a food allowance, and payment of 90% of our auto expenses--if and only if we document all expenses with receipts. Without proof of expenditures, the priest must pay for food, gasoline, or repairs out of pocket.
According to diocesan policy, accurate records must be kept. It is clearly a serious violation for a priest to destroy, or ask others to destroy, parish records. Our finance records prior to January 2011 have never been found. As some of Holy Trinity’s Sacramental records seem to have been in the same closet with their financial records, these records, too, disappeared several years ago, during the transition between priests. We are obliged to maintain and to protect Sacramental and financial records.