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Diocese hires auditor, lay group suspends campaign

PARKERSBURG – A Catholic lay group has suspended its campaign to withhold donations to the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston after the archbishop Wednesday announced a new independent auditor has been appointed with among its first priorities being a “thorough audit of all diocese accounts.”

Archbishop William E. Lori, apostolic administrator for the diocese, said CLA (CliftonLarsonAllen) LLP, a national financial auditing firm, will be the auditing firm of record for the diocese.

The announcement comes after earlier this month Lay Catholic Voices for Change encouraged parishioners in the diocese to withhold contributions to the diocese pending a financial audit. The diocese conducted an investigation of former Bishop Michael Bransfield and among the findings were lavish spending on personal residences, travel and alcoholic drink and gifts to other clergy, according to The Washington Post, which obtained the confidential report that was sent to the Vatican.

Lay Catholic Voices based in Morgantown Wednesday suspended its Not a Dime for the Diocese Campaign pending the audit and the release of the results.

“This is an important first step in a long process of reform”, said Charles DiSalvo, a member of the Lay Catholic Voices steering committee. “It is a basic structural change that will help bring about a healthier distribution of power between the hierarchy and West Virginia Catholics. Up to now, the diocese has kept the laity in the dark regarding its actual income and expenditures. With this increased measure of information, West Virginia Catholics will be that much more empowered to see that the funds they entrust to the diocese are spent properly.”

Read the story in The News and Sentinel on Thursday

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