Petition to seek Transparency and Accountability from Parramatta Diocese

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Dear Friends,

This petition seeks transparency and detailed explanation from the leaders of Parramatta Diocese on issues raised in June 2020 by the Laity.

Sadly, the Parish bulletin dated 21 June 2020 which contains the whistleblower letter has mysteriously and suspiciously disappeared from the bulletin website of St Patrick's Cathedral Parramatta. 

Over 1,800 laity signed to ask Bishop Vincent Long of Parramatta to be transparent in the church dealings and actions.  The laity was kept in darkness and was left unaware of what was happening.  We invoke the laity’s rights under Canon 212 paragraph 2 and 3 and Scripture, Ezekiel 33:9 to ask the shepherds of Christ to lead us out of the darkness and to be transparent by showing the documents we have requested on 7 July 2020.

Canon 212 paragraph

§2. The Christian faithful are free to make known to the pastors of the Church their needs, especially spiritual ones, and their desires.

§3. According to the knowledge, competence, and prestige which they possess, they have the right and even at times the duty to manifest to the sacred pastors their opinion on matters which pertain to the good of the Church and to make their opinion known to the rest of the Christian faithful, without prejudice to the integrity of faith and morals, with reverence toward their pastors, and attentive to common advantage and the dignity of persons.

A Parish Meeting was held 28 June 2020, which Bishop Long chose not to attend despite being invited.  More questions were raised due to the failure of the Parramatta Diocese to engage with the laity and failure to release financial reports and other documents officially requested by registered mail.

What we now know is (from the Parish Meeting):

1. The Process of the Audit was not followed and deliberate attempts have been made to exclude the parish from this process. In particular
A. There is an internal report that no one, not even the Finance Group, has seen, despite several requests.

B. This report was given to third parties without input from the Cathedral Finance Committee.

C. Instead, an unsigned interim report was given by the Diocese as at 18 June (Parish meeting) and thus was the only source presented to us laity.

D. KPMG audit commissioned by the Diocese needs to be discussed with the parish.

2. That our Cathedral Parish was put under administration by your Grace without discussing with the parish team issues raised by you in the audits especially, to clarify:

A. The aim of inserting a bankruptcy clause in the audit report due to the deficit our Parish Cathedral inherited from the previous administration in 2013/2014.

B. Why the Cathedral Overdraft has increased in 6 years and to acknowledge the reasons for this increase.

Members of the Laity Advocacy Group also discovered that the Chair of the Parish Finance Committee, Anthony Khoury, has a conflict of interest with his position and his business dealings with the Parish and Diocese. Our petition sent an email requesting Anthony Khoury the above financial documents and our email was left unanswered. 

The question is, if the chair has a conflict and he is not representing the parishioners especially with their demand for transparency, why is he refusing to resign when the parishioners stood outside in silent protest demanding his resignation while the Parish Finance meeting was happening last  7 August 2020?  Fr Peter Williams asked the parishioners to leave otherwise he will call the police?  

These are only a few of the questions we have. 

We wrote Bishop Long to seek the following:

1. Access to the Cathedral financial reports including the internal and external audit reports from 2012 to 2019;

2. The KPMG report which cost over $25,000;

3. A public dialogue with Bishop Long and the laity.

4. To allow an audit and investigation allowing us to appoint 2 of our representatives.

5. Copy of the 27 May 2020 of Your Grace's correspondence to Fr Bob.

This has not been heard so we continue to demand transparency, explanation and clarity.

Bishop Long encouraged the laity to speak up and be heard in his plenary 2020 speech. And the Archbishop of Sydney recently encouraged the laity to ask for transparency, accountability and synodality. A survey was even put up by Archbishop Fisher to the faithful to this effect. 

Help us bring darkness into the Light.  Let us push for the documents. We will continue to ask the Curia and the Bishops’ Conference of Australia to look into these allegations and questions.  Please continue to support this petition.

Pace in Christi!

As at 9 August, we have over 1,800 signature.  

Our petition were sent by registered mail on 7 July to the following:

His Excellency Most Reverend Adolfo Tito Yllana
Apostolic nunciature of the Holy See (Australia)

Peter Williams
Vicar General of Parramatta Diocese

Very Rev Christopher de Souza VG EV PP
Vicar General

Sr Ailsa Mackinnon RSM
Chancellor – Ministries

Rev Mgr. Ronald McFarlane PP
Chancellor - Administration

General Secretary

Australian Catholic Bishops Conference