Steubenville Diocese investigating significant financial irregularities


The Steubenville Diocese says an investigation is underway after discovering significant financial irregularities within the diocese.

The investigation is putting the brakes on all new major expenditures including a $9 million cathedral renovation.

During a recent reorganization of the Diocese Finance Office Bishop Jeffrey Monforton found the numbers just weren't adding up, so much so that he called in a law firm from Detroit and an accounting firm, Schnieder and Downs, from Pittsburgh.

“We've identified irregularities, but as for people or firms, everything's on the table right now,” Monforton said. “I want to permit our investigators to do their work without me encumbering their efforts

The bishop may not want to interfere with the investigation, but he does have a plan for the way he wants it to proceed and what he wants to do with the information he learns.

“Three things I'm looking at right now,” Monforton said.

“Determine how did we get into this situation?

Second, how do we address it? How do we resolve it?

Third, how do we ensure that this doesn't happen again?”

The questions everyone wants the answers to are:

Where did the money go?

How much is missing?

“We're looking over time, and it's enough that it certainly got my attention and requires us to address it legally, as well as through any actuary method,” Monforton said.

The bishop says he will share the information that was gathered during this investigation.

“Transparency and accountability is crucial at this point for us as the diocese, especially to move forward and to assist our brothers and sisters in many capacities through our charities,” he said.

Monforton is responsible not only for the spiritual health, but the financial health of 57 parishes in the Steubenville Diocese. It's a diocese that covers more than 5,900 miles and 13 counties in eastern Ohio.

“This is my responsibility as a bishop, and I'm meant to ensure that,” he said. “And so we have to be accountable, as well as transparent, and that's why I'm making this announcement immediately instead of letting it simmer, and a year later saying, ‘oh by the way I knew about this earlier.’”

Monforton says pending the completion of the investigation, the diocese will suspend all major financial expenditure, including the Holy Name Cathedral renovation project. It is suspended indefinitely.

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