Charles E. Zech wrote “Chapter 7: Best Practices in Parish Internal Financial Controls” for A Pastor’s Toolbox. Zech, a professor at Villanova University, has written many books about stewardship, management, and consultation. He reports that “Some 85 percent of U.S. Catholic dioceses had experienced fraud or embezzlement over the last five years” and asks why. His answer: “Because we tend to be too trusting” (73).
In the chapter, Zech comments on the document of the U.S. bishops, Diocesan Internal Controls: A Framework. The document, written for dioceses but applicable to parishes, recommends regular financial audits, the development of a comprehensive budget process, and thorough consultation with finance councils. Zech’s thesis is that the adoption by Catholic parishes of widely accepted financial practices will help diminish fraud and will increase the confidence of parishioners in their stewards. Few will argue with that.