Connecticut clergy grossly negligent

Under Connecticut's state law known as the Religious Corporation Act, which codifies the church's Code of Canon law, the ordinary (in this case Archbishop Henry Mansell), the vicar general (in this case just-retired Bishop Peter Rosazza), and the pastor (in this case Fr. Kevin Gray), along with two lay trustees, had the fiduciary duty to the Sacred Heart Parish Corporation for the financial and overall well-being of Sacred Heart Parish Corporation in Waterbury, Conn. According to this extraordinary report by the Hartford Courant, Fr. Gray used over $1 million for personal use for some seven years.

Based on these published facts, a first-year law student would conclude that Archbishop Mansell and Bishop Rosazza were grossly negligent in fulfilling their fiduciary duty to the parish corporation under state law.

Meanwhile, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal posts this Donor's Bill of Rights on his Web site:

Donor's Bill of Rights

  1. To be informed of the organization's mission, of the way the organization intends to use donated resources, and of its capacity to use donations effectively for their intended purposes.

  2. To be informed of the identity of those serving on the organization's governing board, and to expect the board to exercise prudent judgment in its stewardship responsibilities.

  3. To have access to the organization's most recent financial statements.

  4. To be assured their gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given.

  5. To receive appropriate acknowledgment and recognition.

  6. To be assured that information about their donations is handled with respect and with confidentiality to the extent provided by law.

  7. To expect that all relationships with individuals representing organizations of interest to the donor will be professional in nature.

  8. To be informed whether those seeking donations are volunteers of the organization or hired solicitors.

  9. To have the opportunity for their names to be deleted from mailing lists that an organization may intend to share.

  10. To feel free to ask questions when making a donation and to receive prompt, truthful and forthright answer.

Looks like Archbishop Mansell and Bishop Rosazza did not adhere to this Top Ten.

Attorney General Blumenthal allows Catholic priests in Connecticut and religious corporations, and therefore, Catholic bishops and vicars general, a free pass from any sense of state law enforcement and the protection of citizens who donate to faith-affiliated charities such as parishes or fulfilling their fiduciary duties to the parish corporations under state law.

Connecticut is the state with multiple, massive priest-thefts. In the Diocese of Bridgeport, cases include that of Fr. Michael Moynihan at St. Michael's Parish in Greenwich, Conn., which still has not yet been adjudicated, and the nasty case of the Haiti Fund, a Catholic-affiliated charity whose charismatic founder, Doug Perlitz, is in jail pending a federal (not state) trial for trading sex with Haitian kids for money and favors. This charity collected ome $2 million largely in the Diocese of Bridgeport and it was sent to Haiti with little-to-no accountability. Then there is the grand-daddy of them all, the Legionaries of Christ's American headquarters is in the Archdiocese of Hartford with the permission of Archbishop Mansell, and that organization has gathered huge sums of money in Connecticut and the United States, certainly sent money to its headquarters in Rome, which ultimately funded its founder's criminal lifestyle.

For the love of God and neighbor, besides just doing your job, it's time for Connecticut Attorney General Blumenthal to find the necessary constitutional fortitude to get in the game of simple enforcement of existing laws to protect citizens, who are donors to faith-based charities.

Join the Conversation

Send your thoughts and reactions to Letters to the Editor. Learn more here