Tuesday, January 22, 2008

From Belleville: I'm Sorry

Two days after telling the local paper that he "do[es]n't make statements to the public media because it does not help. It only muddies the water," Bishop Edward Braxton of Belleville has... released a statement to the public media apologizing for the late unpleasantness in the Southern Illinois diocese.

(Suffice it to say, "Super-Nuncio" strikes again.)

As Bishop of the Diocese of Belleville, I have the responsibility to oversee the temporal goods and finances of the Diocese in collaboration with the Chief Financial Officer. (“It is the role of the finance officer to administer the goods of the Diocese under the authority of the Bishop…”(Cf. the Code of Canon Law #494-3) This is a very serious responsibility for each of us.

When I decided that the new table and chairs for the Chancery Office conference room and the vestments and altar linens for the Cathedral of St. Peter should be paid for out of a special fund for diocesan buildings from the Future Full of Hope campaign and a bequest for the propagation of the faith [sic], it was my judgment that these were funds over which I had some discretionary power. At the time of this decision I stated, in writing, that if it was determined that my judgment was incorrect in this matter, I would replenish both funds with revenues obtained from an outside benefactor. After several weeks of discussion, the Chief Financial Officer and the Diocesan Finance Council have not agreed with my judgment.

Today, I have secured a gift from a benefactor that will replenish both funds completely. While this gift resolves the immediate question concerning restricted and unrestricted funds, it does not resolve the larger question of the confusion, mistrust, misunderstanding, loss of confidence, and even anger caused by these developments. I regret this very much, and I apologize for anything I may have done, even unwittingly, to contribute to this situation. A serious effort on my part and on the part of those charged by the Church to assist me in the stewardship of our finances will be required to move forward. After discussing this matter with the Finance Council yesterday, I assured them of my desire to work closer with them to ensure that such a problem does not occur again. In order to be sure we move from words to deeds, we will discuss specific steps to be taken during our February meeting.

As a Bishop it has always been my commitment to act in complete fidelity to the doctrine and discipline of the Catholic Church and to do nothing in violation of civil law, canon law, or moral law. I renew that commitment today.
PHOTO: Diocese of Belleville