The Roman Catholic Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia recently announced its former bishop has been sanctioned by the Vatican.  The bishop was accused of sexual and financial misconduct. I will leave the sexual misconduct issues to others, but I do want to look at the financial misconduct issues purely from an NFP management perspective.

As part of the sanctions, the bishop was ordered not to live in the diocese.  Effectively, this means he will need to leave the State of West Virginia since the Wheeling-Charleston diocese encompasses the entire state. He has been prohibited from conducting public religious celebrations and will need to make restitution. [1]  That sounded good so far, but I was waiting for more.

Any organization facing a crisis needs to do three critical things:  fix the problem, prevent the problem from reoccurring, and be transparent.  While the Vatican fixed the problem by removing the bishop from office and instituting new internal controls in the diocese there was no discussion of how this particular person was selected to be a bishop, why the Vatican took so long to respond to warnings,[2] and what it is going to do to prevent this from happening again. In short, its response seemed dramatic but lacked essential elements of proper management. Perhaps the Vatican made nal improvements it did not announce.  Even so, that would fail the transparency requirement.  Constituencies are forgiving but they like to know this won’t reoccur.  The bishop’s successor has already been criticized as being a good man but not the right person for the job.[3]  I can only wish him luck.

Lest anyone should think this is an isolated incident, the Vatican also reinstalled a major archbishop (effectively equivalent to an Eastern Orthodox patriarch) in India who also had been accused of financial mismanagement.  In this case, the major archbishop entered into a real estate transaction that resulted in an inexplicable loss.  There were no reasons given what the result of the Vatican investigation was.  As a result, there have been major protests against his reinstatement. [4] All this could have been avoided if the Vatican followed simple principles of management. 

Not-For-Profits everywhere,  let this be a lesson. Remember:  fix the problem, make sure it doesn’t reoccur, and be transparent about how it occurred. 

[1] Accessed July 25,

[2]  Accessed July 26, 2019

[3] Accessed July 25, 2019

[4] Accessed July 21, 2019

One thought on “Crisis Management in an NFP

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