I received an email from a concerned French Latter-day Saint who I'll call "Sophie" (since I'm halfway through DaVinci Code at the moment). Sophie expressed "great concern" over how the Church was (or was not) performing some of its ecclesiastical tasks, as noted below. I will summarize the points and give my brief responses. I would invite readers to make their own comments if they have helpful comments to add.
First, Sophie is concerned about the lack of financial disclosure in the Church. Yes, as I have posted previously, I believe this is an item of some concern and feel there would be some positive results from fuller disclosure. Before the mid-1950s, the Church actually published annual financial statements, so there is nothing inherently wrong with such financial disclosure. On the other hand, I know there is careful accounting for and auditing of LDS revenues and expenditures at both the local and general level; they just don't release the information publicly. And the LDS Church is under more scrutiny these days by unfriendly critics than in years past. Since many of those critics would undoubtedly milk any disclosures for information that could be used to place the Church in a bad light, it is understandable why leaders hesitate to give them more ammunition to use in their attacks. In the larger scheme of things, this is a decidedly minor issue.
Second, Sophie has been doing "investigating regarding [the Church's] beliefs and customs" and has found some things that are disturbing. Great -- just make sure you are using responsible sources. Many LDS critics are both surprisingly uninformed and amazingly unfair, even dishonest, in their presentation of information about the Church. Overseas, this is even more true. Even reading neutral scholars and LDS defenders one will learn information in LDS history and early doctrinal development that can be disturbing. My advice: Keep reading. The more you read, the more context you will have to understand the mistakes as well as the triumphs in LDS history. Every earthly institution has failed leaders and regrettable, even tragic, episodes. The LDS Church is no exception. However, most informed Latter-day Saints learn to take it in stride. That is part of the mature perspective that comes from reading lots of history.
Third, Sophie is concerned about placing trust and faith in men as opposed to God. I think most LDS leaders would respond that faith is always directed to God, not to earthly leaders. Trust, on the other hand, can be directed to earthly leaders (in Church or in other institutions) who earn it. In my experience, the vast majority of LDS leaders, both general and local, do deserve a presumption of trust (it is not absolute, of course). In areas where the Church has not grown and has not developed strong local units, leaders are sometimes not fully prepared or qualified for the leadership roles they are asked to fill. That's just the way it is sometimes. I once heard (apocryphal story alert!) of a steady smoker who was called to be an LDS branch president because he was the best man that was available (let's assume he was fully worthy in other ways that matter). I don't know if that's really a true tale, but the general principle still applies. In any case, you only have to trust other men and women as far as they deserve it.
Fourth, Sophie asks: "Isn't the main purpose of a church to develop the spirituality and moral values of its members, as well as provide for the poor and sick in an enlightened way?" The Church tries to do this — how successful it is depends on a variety of factors. In terms of providing for the temporal or physical needs of its needy or poorer members, the Church has many resources at its disposal in some areas, and tries to direct those resources toward needy and deserving Church members. I don't think the LDS Church has, as its primary responsibility, directing a large portion of its limited (from a global perspective) resources to those who are not Latter-day Saints, although I believe in crisis or emergency situations the Church makes its supplies available to all who need them.
As a quick comment, I do sympathize with Mormons in foreign countries who do not have many LDS books and journals in foreign languages to draw upon when seeking additional information on doctrinal or historical questions. And rarely have I found any information in official CES materials (which may be translated and made available to local members) that really gives satisfying accounts or answers to potentially troubling issues. Amazon and the Internet at least make English-language material available in many places where they were not available to most people even ten years ago. FAIR is always a good place to start.