“…at no time ever has there been an instance of breach of fiduciary responsibilities, improprieties of any kind…” the Bishop said.
Let me begin by thanking all of you for your extraordinary efforts during one of the most trying times in human history, as we respond to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our prayers are with all of you and with those that have been affected with illness, loss of life, loss of jobs and the loss of what joins us together in families and communities of faith. Be assured of my daily prayers and may the Holy Spirit continue to inspire us each day as we pray for those affected, and for those in medical research to find a path forward for our communities and world.
It is with great sadness that I write to you today in response to an article that appeared in the August 26, 2020 issue of the L.A. Times which falsely insinuates that I fired members of the Orange Catholic Foundation (OCF) Board of Directors because they would not permit the use of OCF funds to pay sexual abuse-related lawsuits. I state for the record that any such insinuations are utterly false and without merit. To be clear, at no time had I ever, or would I ever even suggest that any funds, unrestricted or in a restricted endowment, ever be granted by the Orange Catholic Foundation to the Diocese to be used for any litigation, or for purposes other than what the donor intended.
The OCF has been and remains an independent, fiduciary board and foundation. The Board oversees the Executive Director and all functions, hiring and terminations of all staff and consultants. It approves the annual budget. It has an audit committee and investment committee to ensure independent oversight of both expenditures and endowment investments and disbursements, as directed by donor intent.
The Orange Catholic Foundation is, has always been, and shall remain a not-for-profit, 501 (c) (3) foundation governed by its own bylaws and by the laws of the State of California. Moreover, it has standing in the Catholic Church as a pious, autonomous, private juridic person “ordered for a purpose which is in keeping with the mission of the Church and which transcends the purpose of the individuals” (canon 114 §1 of the Code of Canon Law). As such, the OCF acts to fulfill the philosophy, purpose and objectives of the mission of OCF, its fundraising priorities and objectives, and it does so in support of the Diocese of Orange, its mission, ministries, pastors, and parishes and schools. Simply put, OCF is an independent foundation legally and canonically.
Recently, I exercised my authority as Ordinary by replacing many who served on the OCF Board of Directors and a new Board was appointed on June 19, 2020. In discernment and prayer, I appointed the following new Board members to lead OCF forward.
- Mr. Tom Greeley, Chairman of the Board
- Mr. Richard Crawford, Vice-Chairman of the Board
- Mr. Mark Doyle, Secretary
- Mr. Michael Murphy, Treasurer and Chair Audit Committee
- Reverend Edward Becker, Pastor, Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, La Habra
- Very Reverend E. Scott Borgman, J.C.D., Judicial Vicar, Diocese of Orange
- Mrs. Mary Brunson, St. Thomas More Church, Irvine
- Ms. Lucy Dunn, St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Church, Irvine
- Mrs. Susan Strader, Our Lady of Queen of Angels Church, Newport Beach
- Reverend Boa Quoc Thai, Pastor, St. Cecilia Church, Tustin
- James F. Normandin, Interim Director, Orange Catholic Foundation
- Most Reverend Kevin W. Vann, Diocese of Orange
The new Board has immediately begun to act on a series of initiatives that have needed focused attention for some time and the members are creating a strategic plan for the Foundation. I do point out that for many months I had been asking certain members of the OCF Executive Leadership and Management to prepare such a strategic plan, but no such plan was produced. Another Board meeting is scheduled for Sept. 16, and the Board will be seeking to achieve common purpose, strategic alignment and the fulfillment of the philosophy, purpose and objectives of the mission of the OCF and of fundraising priorities that will support our Diocese. The Board has also initiated a search for a permanent Executive Director; interviews are underway and qualified candidates are being identified. I point out that for many months, I had been asking the OCF Executive Leadership and Management to select a permanent Executive Director, but no such permanent Executive Director was secured. The Board also reviewed and approved The Orange Catholic Foundation Audit, which was recently completed by Withum Smith and Brown LP – again, all part of the independence and independent oversight of the Foundation.
Assertions have also been made about me, our Chief Financial Officer and others who support the Office of the Bishop and the Diocese and I want to be even more clear: at no time ever has there been an instance of breach of fiduciary responsibilities, improprieties of any kind, or acts outside the policies and procedures or regulations as mandated by either civil or canonical law in the administration of the Diocese of Orange or in its relationship with the Orange Catholic Foundation. Moreover, we respect and honor the intent of donors in all matters, carefully following Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) as well as the Code of Canon Law, especially as regards the administration and oversight of temporal goods (Book V).
Finally, I am pleased to report that, with the full support of the parish pastors, OCF is assisting with the transition of the administrative functions of the annual Pastoral Services Appeal (PSA) to the parishes and Diocese. To date, even in these difficult times, PSA is at approximately 90 percent of its goal – a tremendous success by any standard. Our thanks to all of you whom have given so generously to the PSA Parish Appeals. It is never taken for granted.