Best-Practicing Catholics

Can the ‘Roundtable' Fix Church Management?

A purchasing agent for the Archdiocese of New York is convicted in a $2-million kickback scheme. A priest supports his opulent lifestyle by pilfering $1.3 million. Another squirrels away over $1 million from weekly collections to buy a horse farm.

The Center for the Study of Church Management at Villanova University estimates that more than half of the dioceses in the United States have suffered embezzlement on a significant scale. And just as the church’s sexual-abuse scandal gave rise to groups like Voice of the Faithful, the mishandling of financial and human resources has spurred reform. One important initiative is the National Leadership Roundtable on Church Management. Brainchild of Geoffrey Boisi, a Wall Street investment manager with a distinguished record in Catholic philanthropy, the D.C.-based group has been working since 2004 to address the church’s structural problems, including the decline in monetary giving to Catholic ministries. Its mission is to help assure the institutional future of the church in the United States.

The Roundtable has a full-time staff of four and an annual budget of just under $1.5 million. Kerry Robinson, former development director at Yale’s Catholic center, guides the operation. Start-up money has come from half a dozen Catholic foundations, and board members range from Charles Geschke, chairman of software giant Adobe Systems, to J. Bryan Hehir of...

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About the Author

Peter McDonough is the coauthor (with Eugene Bianchi) of Passionate Uncertainty: Inside the American Jesuits (University of California Press).