Deloitte's Israel and Palestine arms work on joint Catholic church project

12 September 2018 3 min. read

The Israeli and Palestinian arms of accounting and consulting firm Deloitte have joined together on a project of financial reform for the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, with the Catholic Church’s apostolic administrator Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa praising the collaboration.

Led by Archbishop Pierbattista Pizzaballa, the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem – the Catholic episcopal see of Jerusalem with jurisdiction extending to all of Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Cyprus – has unveiled the first of its finance and management reforms following a review launched in the wake of an underperforming university project established in Jordan.

Announced at a workshop at the end of July, the initial round of reforms include a significant reshuffling of the organisation’s general administration, along with a revamped system for expense management – developed in coordination with Deloitte Israel, members of which were in attendance alongside high-level church representatives and their colleagues from the Big Four firm’s Italian wing who were responsible for the engagement. Pizzaballa joined via Skype.Deloitte's Israel and Palestine arms work on joint Catholic church project‘Our church’s mode of operation was outdated and out of step with the development of new technologies,” Pizzaballa recently told Catholic media agency La Croix. In explaining the reforms, the Latin Patriarchate’s Chief Executive Officer Sami El-Yousef – a layman appointed to the position late last year and who is charged with overseeing the restructuring – said that the new procedures ‘clarify the relationship between the various offices and introduces the principles of internal controls and segregation of duties.”

“We sometimes had several people doing the same job,” El-Youssef told La Croix. “Now before any new decision, it is necessary to have it approved by several persons.” The announced reforms are just the first step in an ongoing process, with the Ramallah office of Deloitte Middle East – which worked alongside Deloitte’s Israel branch to conduct a financial audit – set to publish its conclusions next month. Speaking of the joint audit, El-Youssef said the two subsidiaries have worked “side by side but independently and politics does not interfere.”

With a near $13 million budget for 2018, El-Youssef has previously stated that his goal is to empower people at all levels of the church in order to advance transparency, with the Deloitte audit described as an essential point of reference for operational and professional procedures. Speaking on the path ahead, El-Youssef says; “As the workshop was an important milestone, everyone in attendance acknowledged that the more challenging part is with the full implementation and the hoped-for change of culture in order to realise the full benefits of the new structure.”

According to figures from the firm, Deloitte Israel has over 1,000 employees across eight offices, including special analytics and strategy centres and a presence in Jerusalem, Haifa and Tel Aviv, while Deloitte Middle East has a headcount in excess of 3,000 employed across 26 offices in 15 countries – including its Palestinian Territories branch based in Ramallah.