Cemetery Trust Created for Right Reasons

Mark Doll, the chairman of the Finance Council for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, has an article in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which gives a complete explanation of the decision in Milwaukee to establish a cemetery trust with the money that had been set aside over the course of many decades for the perpetual care of cemetery plots.  The article was also submitted to The New York Times, which declined to publish it.

Here’s an excerpt:

For many decades, the archdiocese told buyers of grave sites that it would put money aside to ensure perpetual care, and buyers of grave sites were assured that funds had been set aside specifically for that purpose. Similar to the process required by Wisconsin law for non-church cemeteries, the archdiocese put a portion of the money from cemetery lots sales into a separate account from the archdiocese’s general funds. There was a regular and separate audit of the trust fund each year by an independent auditor, and the money was invested by a different group of outside investment managers. Because these funds were held in trust, special attention was given to ensuring that they were independent of the general fund and that they would be there for their intended and pledged purpose — to care for the resting places of the departed.

In spring of 2007, the finance council as a group unanimously recommended that the archdiocese formalize the way it fulfills this church responsibility.

You can read the entire article here.

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4 Responses to “Cemetery Trust Created for Right Reasons”

  1. Rita says:

    As a long-time (more than 30 years) reader of the Times, I can definitively state that Mr. Doll’s piece is not the sort of thing that would be published as an op-ed.

    A shorter version, including the paragraphs that are quoted in the blog post would have been suitable (and, I would guess, published) as a letter to the editor in response to the article about the document release, the editorial about it, or even possibly Frank Bruni’s piece.

    The transfer of funds to a formal trust was a prudent, and probably proper, action but Cardinal Dolan has made statements about the transfer that, at best, are less than straightforward. It is likely that the transfer will be examined in the bankruptcy proceeding as a possible “voidable preference,” making comment to the press inadvisable.

    It is unfortunate that Jeff Anderson and groups of organized victims have been able to disrupt Milwaukee and other dioceses. However, bishops, including Cardinal Dolan, have assisted them considerably with obstruction and dissembling that prolong resolution of the situation

  2. I am sure this explaination is correct. But, the problem lays in perception that funds were shifted at a time of impending litigation. It is a hard sell the truth given the atmosphere that prevailed(s).

  3. Bill Crew says:

    Perhaps the NY Times declined to publish the letter because, contrary to the statement that it is
    a “complete explanation,” it lacks many details. If the Cardinal would outline the possible liabilities that might be incurred, if not the payouts due to the sex abuse scandals, it might be more “complete” and believable. If details would be provided outlining the accounts from which the $51M were taken, it might be more “complete.” As it stands now, the letter sounds more like a political spin rather than a “complete explanation.” Sadly the hierarchy of the Church has little credibility these days and such “explanations” do little to change that.

  4. Irene says:

    So how are the cemeteries part of the Archdiocese of NY financed? Do we also have a cemetery trust for all the perpetual care funds?