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Bishops’ finances rally as deficit turns to surplus

By Sarah Mac Donald - 29 October, 2015

BISHOPS MEETING MAYNOOTHThe Irish bishops have, for the first time, made public their finances issuing their 2014 financial report showing a financial surplus of €616,091 compared to a deficit of €103,076 in 2013.

Last year, the income from all sources to the bishops’ General Purposes Trust, of which the four archbishops are trustees, was €5,382,161, while total expenditure was €4,766,070, leaving the Irish hierarchy’s balance sheet in the black.

However, cash in bank showed a big drop from 2013 to 2014, falling from €1,611,261 to €956,485. The net cash in bank at the start of 2013 was €5,050,662 million and that dropped to €956,485 at the end of 2014 – a decrease of roughly €4million.

This decrease in cash at the bank according to Martin Long, Director of the Catholic Communications Office, “reflects funding support by way of repayable loans to various Church entities and there is a corresponding increase in debtors figure at year-end.”

He said the reduction in net cash of circa €4m reflects moving funds that were on bank deposit into an externally managed investment fund.

The counselling service for survivors of clerical abuse, Towards Healing, saw its income from the bishops’ increase by almost €250,000 in 2014 to €1.5million. There was also increased contributions for the care of retired bishops.

The contribution from the bishops according to Martin Long is based on counselling hours and the reduction.

The figure of €147,720 relates to a surplus on the liquidation of the company formed to run the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin in 2012. This surplus is now included in reserve funds for future similar events.

The expenditure on the National Eucharistic Congress, which took place in Knock in September, is estimated to have been €40,000 and it will be met by this surplus.

According to the Director of the Catholic Communications Office, the decision to publish the financial report is intended “to increase accountability to the faithful concerning the financing of the pastoral work of the Irish Bishops’ Conference”.

The report covers the current areas of activity of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference and its five commissions. It does not include Trócaire, which is a separate trust.

The improved financial picture saw investment and other incomes increase from €135,456 in 2013 to €350,653 in 2014 which according to the Catholic Communications Office reflects “diversification of funds invested”.

However, the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church saw its income drop from €342,226 to €243,975 in 2014. According to the CCO spokesman, the income of the National Board comes from a number of sources.

“Due to an increase of income generated from NBSCCCI activities in 2014 over 2013, the resources required from the Sponsoring Bodies (of which the Irish Episcopal Conference is the largest) to fund the work of the NBSCCCI was significantly reduced in 2014. This funding reduction is reflected in the sum required by the NBSCCCI for 2104.”

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