Financial Shadows Overcast a Devoted Diocese Facing Demographic and Pastoral Challenges

Steubenville’s Struggles: Faith and Finances at Odds in a Shrinking Diocese

Mass Attendance High, But Financial Woes Haunt Steubenville

Despite strong faith and dedication among its parishioners, the Diocese of Steubenville faces a stark reality: declining numbers.

Economic pressures and demographic shifts threaten the future of this Ohio diocese, despite its vibrant community.

Financial Mismanagement and Cathedral Dreams on Hold

Past financial mismanagement has dealt a heavy blow to the diocese.

A plan to replace the cathedral, announced in 2007, was scrapped due to unsustainable debt.

Even a renovation effort, launched in 2013, was abandoned in 2018 after embezzlement within the diocese came to light.

Embezzlement and Tax Evasion: A Painful Betrayal

Former comptroller David Franklin and former vicar general Monsignor Kurt Kemo diverted millions in withholding and payroll taxes, hiding the funds in an off-the-books account.

Kemo used the slush fund for personal expenses, including trips, meals, and even flying lessons.

These actions not only betrayed the trust of the faithful but also resulted in hefty fines and payments to the IRS.

Lawsuits and Clergy Misconduct: Further Erosion of Trust

A 2022 lawsuit settlement involving a sexual assault by a pastor added to the diocese’s burdens.

The diocese also faced backlash from clergy and laity alike regarding a proposed merger with the Diocese of Columbus, ultimately leading to its abandonment.

Shrinking Numbers: Demographic Challenges and Uncertain Future

Declining population and priest numbers further complicate the situation.

With only 31 priests serving 50 parishes, many of whom are nearing retirement, the diocese struggles to maintain its current level of service.

Faith in the Face of Challenges: A Community Seeks Solutions

Despite these challenges, the Steubenville community remains strong.

Mass attendance continues to be high, and the dedication of its faithful offers a glimmer of hope.

However, finding solutions to financial and demographic challenges remains crucial for the long-term sustainability of the diocese.


Strong faith and high mass attendance coexist with financial difficulties in the Diocese of Steubenville.

Embezzlement and tax evasion by high-ranking officials led to financial losses and damaged trust.

Lawsuit settlements and clergy misconduct further eroded the community’s confidence.

Declining population and priest numbers pose additional challenges for the diocese’s future.

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