What Are the Roles & Responsibilities of the Parish Finance Council?
Our Parish Finance Council is mandatory in Canon Law. Its’ member are appointed by the Pastor of the Parish. (Canon 537)1
It is widely recommended and recognised that a Parish Finance Council should be run along similar lines as those of the Diocesan Finance Council as dictated by Canon Law (cf. Canons 492 – 494).2
The Southwark Archdiocese guidance entitled “Parish Financial Administration for Parish Priests” 3 gives the following guidance about Parish Finance Councils:
- The Parish Finance Committee should consist of all parish clergy and at least three lay people appointed by the Parish Priest.
- It should have regular meetings (three to four times a year at least) which should be properly minuted.
- The Parish Finance Council should assist the Parish Priest in:
- Ensuring that the proper books are kept and that accurate annual accounts are prepared and submitted at the due time
- Preparing budget of income and expenditure
- Comparing budget with actual results
- Fundraising, Gift Aid, etc
- Banking and investment of surplus funds
- Managing borrowing and repayments
- Maintenance of buildings and development projects (including access for the disabled)
- Safeguarding and conserving all parish property, safeguarding boundaries, preparing an inventory, ensuring that rents are collected
- Agreeing terms of employment for parish employees
Canon 1287 §2 also confers an obligation on a Parish Priest to: “…render an account to the faithful concerning the goods offered by the faithful to the Church.”4
1. Can. 537 In each parish there is to be a finance council which is governed, in addition to universal law, by norms issued by the diocesan bishop and in which the Christian faithful, selected according to these same norms, are to assist the pastor in the administration of the goods of the parish, without prejudice to the prescript of Can. 532.
2. Can. 492 §1. In every diocese a Finance council is to be established, offer which the diocesan bishop himself or his delegate presides and which consists of at least three members of the Christian faithful truly expert in Financial affairs and civil law, outstanding in integrity, and appointed by the bishop.
§2. Members of the Finance council are to be appointed for Five years, but at the end of this period they can be appointed for other Five year terms.
§3. Persons who are related to the bishop up to the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity are excluded from the Finance council.
Can. 493 In addition to the functions entrusted to it in Book V, The Temporal Goods of the Church, the Finance council prepares each year, according to the directions of the diocesan bishop, a budget of the income and expenditures which are foreseen for the entire governance of the diocese in the coming year and at the end of the year examines an account of the revenues and expenses.
Can. 494 §1. In every diocese, after having heard the college of consultors and the Finance council, the bishop is to appoint a Finance officer who is truly expert in Financial affairs and absolutely distinguished for honesty.
§2. The Finance officer is to be appointed for a Five year term but can be appointed for other Five year terms at the end of this period. The finance officer is not to be removed while in this function except for a grave cause to be assessed by the bishop after he has heard the college of consultors and the Finance council.
§3. It is for the Finance officer to administer the goods of the diocese under the authority of the bishop in accord with the budget determined by the Finance council and, from the income of the diocese, to meet expenses which the bishop or others designated by him have legitimately authorized.
§4. At the end of the year, the Finance officer must render an account of receipts and expenditures to the Finance council.
4. Can. 1287 §1. Both clerical and lay administrators of any ecclesiastical goods whatever which have not been legitimately exempted from the power of governance of the diocesan bishop are bound by their office to present an annual report to the local ordinary who is to present it for examination by the finance council; any contrary custom is reprobated.
§2. According to norms to be determined by particular law, administrators are to render an account to the faithful concerning the goods offered by the faithful to the Church.