That's the good news: guidelines, expectations, requirements, reporting, and oversight are all in place which, if obeyed, guarantee open, straightforward, sound, honest stewardship of our finances.
The bad news is that - just like the Ten Commandments or the eight beatitudes - people can and do break these rules, and that's when problems occur. There's always a way some sinful, desperate, or selfish person can devise to try to pilfer other people's money, even when it's given to the church.
Still, it's only money. How about outside audits of liturgy and Christian formation.
P.S. Tom Heinen reported, All Catholic churches will have to get audits, in the May 16, 2008 Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Milwaukee archdiocese has detailed financial guidelines and requirements for parishes. They include a call for an internal financial review of each parish every four years to make sure that each is following the required accounting procedures and guidelines. But that has not been done since 2000 because of additional duties given to the archdiocese's Financial Services Office, Hoeller [Katie Hoeller, director of the Parish and School Financial Services Office] said.
I'm not seeing what will prevent that from happening in the future. Audit audits, perhaps. Reminds me of a former pastor at St. Al's who "explained" that the parish website hadn't been updated because he had given that duty to someone who was too busy to do it. Sure, that can happen, but where else is it a policy?