The following is a letter to the Editor that appeared in the Washington Post and was written by Bryan Minor, Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston Delegate for Administrative Affairs.
The July 19 Metro article “Facing boycott, W.Va. diocese to hire new auditor” distorted and omitted key facts about the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston’s recent efforts to correct excessive spending that occurred during the tenure of former bishop Michael Bransfield and improve financial safeguards and transparency. The article suggested the actions taken were done only in response to a threatened boycott of charitable giving to parish offertory collections. Several months ago, the archbishop and the Finance Council began implementing these steps before any boycott was announced. The diocese has taken many steps to safeguard church finances and ensure responsible stewardship, including implementing a third-party reporting system for complaints against bishops, hiring a new independent auditor, making the review of capital projects more transparent and entering into a contract for the sale of the former bishop’s residence in Wheeling, W.Va. While the diocese is pleased that the boycott was canceled, the real threat was to the parishes. The assessment from the diocese is 9 percent, among the lowest in the country. Of that, 6 percent funds retirement benefits and health-care costs for clergy. The other 3 percent is returned to parishes in need. Any bishop entrusted to care of a diocese is expected to be a wise and faithful steward. With the steps taken recently to improve financial controls and transparency, the diocese will be even more well positioned to advance the church’s ministries and mission for the good of all West Virginians. Bryan Minor, Wheeling, W.Va.