PARISH FINANCE COUNCILS*
Parish Finance Councils assist the pastor in the administration of parish temporal matters. These guidelines are designed to aid Pastors and Finance Council members in the effective functioning of a Parish Finance Council by supporting the pastor in his stewardship of parish resources while being accountable to the parish and the diocesan bishop.
An active, well-formed Parish Finance Council is a key element for promoting the financial health of a parish, assuring accountability and assisting the pastor with his temporal responsibilities. In the administration of temporal goods of the parish, Canon 532 defines the role of the pastor as the authoritative representative of the parish. Canon 532 says, “The pastor represents the parish in all juridic affairs in accord with the norm of law; he is to see to it that the goods of the parish are administered in accord with the norms of canons 1281-1288.”1 Canon 537 introduces the Parish Finance Council as a mandated body having an advisory and
consultative role with the pastor. Canon 537 says, “Each parish is to have a finance council which is regulated by universal law as well as by norms issued by the diocesan bishop; in this council the Christian faithful, selected according to the same norms, aid the pastor in the administration of parish goods with due regard for the prescription of canon 532.”
Every parish therefore is required to have a Parish Finance Council, both by adherence to the Code of Canon Law and by local norms issued by the diocesan bishop. To be effective the Parish Finance Council should meet regularly with specific agendas and should have access to all the relevant financial information and policies of the parish. What follows is an outline of suggested ways to organize and operate a Parish Finance Council.
Each diocese may also establish particular norms that more specifically define how a Parish Finance Council is expected to operate. Additionally, depending on the legal structure of a parish (either canonically or civilly), its corporate statutes may define additional roles and responsibilities for the Parish Finance Council.
*Archdiocese of Chicago