Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Diocese of Derry criticised for levy on parish collections

A Catholic organisation in the diocese of Derry has strongly criticised the diocese for imposing a hike in parish collections without any prior consultation.

Mass goers in the Derry diocese will be hit with an additional 3% levy on parish collections, a hike that was controversially withdrawn in 2005 after protests that the extra money was being used to compensate victims of clerical child sexual abuse through the Stewardship Trust Fund.

In a statement issued this week Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) accused the diocese of, “behaving recklessly in raising the diocesan levy without prior warning or explanation. Far from restoring trust, this manner of proceeding can only seriously further undermine the trust that needs to exist between their bishop and his people."

The statement called for "complete transparency and accountability" in relation to diocesan finances.

"Otherwise the suspicion must remain that compensation has been paid in consequence of clerical sexual abuse in the diocese, without the consultation that was promised in 2005. At the very least the bishop should be ready to confirm that this has not happened since he made that promise in 2005."

In a statement issued on behalf of the Bishop Hegarty this week the diocese said that, "The increase in levy on parish income arises from increasing costs borne by the diocese and is not linked to the Stewardship Trust Fund.

The diocese is obliged to pay the costs associated with providing services at diocesan level, many of which are directly availed of by parishes.

The increase in levy is not linked to any special fund, diocesan or national, for compensation arising from child sexual abuse allegations.

The size of levy increase is due to a prudent assessment of costs associated with running the diocese.”

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