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Friars tucked into Order’s coffers

Friars tucked into Order’s coffers

One of the largest Franciscan religious orders, founded on the humble teachings of St Francis of Assisi more than 800 years ago, announced it is on the brink of bankruptcy after admitting some of its friars embezzled funds from its accounts.

According to this report, The Italian news magazine Panorama last week reported that tens of millions of dollars were missing from the Order of Friars Minor and had been invested in offshore companies.

Panorama also claimed Swiss prosecutors had seized Franciscan accounts in Switzerland because the account holders had allegedly invested in illegal operations that could include arms and drug trafficking.

Brother Michael Perry, above, the American head of the order, said an internal inquiry was begun in September and revealed:

A number of questionable financial activities that were conducted by friars entrusted with the care of the patrimony of the order.

In a letter posted on the order’s website, Perry said the order was in:

Grave, and I underscore grave, financial difficulty, with a significant burden of debt.

The letter, addressed to all friars and published in both English and Italian, said the order’s general treasurer Father Giancarlo Lati had resigned but gave no further details.

Lati was also reportedly responsible for managing Il Cantico, a luxury Rome hotel owned by the order, whose website promises to use profits to help the poor, street kids and AIDS centers.

Perry added:

Because of the scope and magnitude of these activities, they have placed the financial stability of the General Curia at grave risk.

The systems of financial oversight and control for the management of the patrimony of the order were either too weak or were compromised, thus limiting their effectiveness to guarantee responsible, transparent management. We have initiated steps to address these concerns.

The scandal has shaken the order inspired by its founder’s devotion to poverty and prayer. It is active in 110 countries and had more than 14,000 members.

Perry, an Indianapolis native, was appointed to head the order last year, and succeeded Jose Rodriguez Carballo, whom Pope Francis appointed to head the Vatican’s body for religious orders — the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life.

Perry made it clear the scope of the scandal was not restricted to friars.

These questionable activities also involve people who are not Franciscan but who appear to have played a central role.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn

15 responses to “Friars tucked into Order’s coffers”

  1. Broga says:

    Frankie has his hands full presiding over the greatest bunch of spivs, shysters, hypocrites, thieves, paedophiles, arms dealers, drug traffickers and piss artists on the planet. He must wonder why God is so passive when this villainous activity amongst his priests is continuing.

    Frankie had better pray. Surrounded by such a multitude of scoundrels I can’t see what else he can do.

  2. Trevor Blake says:

    Take ye the spoil of silver, take the spoil of gold: for there is none end of the store and glory out of all the pleasant furniture. – Nahum 2:9

  3. mrspock says:

    Monks committing crime?! Quelle surprise. It would appear that old habits die hard.

  4. barriejohn says:

    Were the friars cooking the books?

    “Grave” seems to be a favourite word of the RC hierarchy. The way things are going, we will soon have TWO Popes Emeritus and a whole host of cardinals terrified of landing the top job!

  5. Newspaniard says:

    HaHaHaHa! It’s not April 5th is it? So sanctimonious, yet so bad. Snigger, Snigger. It’s christmas! Bring on the wine, song and little boys!

  6. Avaggdu says:

    ‘Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition ‘

  7. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: Frankie may decide the job is just too dangerous and get out. All he needs is for the death fish to arrive to tell him he is going to swim with the fishes.

  8. Ex Patriot says:

    I have always felt that the Vatican and cohorts make the Mafia look like the good guys. Nobody dares embezzle their funds.

  9. barriejohn says:

    Ex Patriot: How could you? These Christian brothers are just simple people, unencumbered by material considerations or thoughts of worldy wealth and power. Oh for a life of poverty and religious reflection!

  10. barriejohn says:

    Broga: Popes have been finished off in the past, and even recently there have been such rumours.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_John_Paul_I_conspiracy_theories

  11. barriejohn says:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_murdered_Popes

    According to Liudprand of Cremona, John (XII) died whilst enjoying an adulterous sexual encounter outside Rome, either as the result of apoplexy, or at the hands of an outraged husband.

    “There cannot be a doubt that John XII was anything but what a Pope, the chief pastor of Christendom, should have been.”

    Onofrio Panvinio, in the revised edition of Bartolomeo Platina’s book about the popes, added an elaborate note indicating that the legend of Pope Joan may be based on a mistress of John XII: Panvinius, in a note to Platina’s account of pope Joan, suggests that the licentiousness of John XII, who, among his numerous mistresses, had one called Joan, who exercised the chief influence at Rome during his pontificate, may have given rise to the story of “pope Joan.”

    God’s ways are, indeed, past finding out.

  12. Brian Jordan says:

    It seems there’s been a squabble since the 13th century over whether the dosh belongs to the Franciscans or the pope. It looks as though these lads have taken matters into their own hands!

  13. Robster says:

    Where’s the story in the news about the Corrections Dept. building new prisons or expanding the current ones to accommodate the gaggle of criminal clergy that’s filling the jails? The busiest place in prisons these days is when the incarcerated clergy gather to organise the weekly religious get together and fight it out to see who gets the silly hat that week. There’ll be bishops bashing, ministers mauling, priests punching and a pile of revolting reverends taking bets. Do they get the wine and crackers in jail, I wonder.

  14. barriejohn says:

    Robster: I believe there’s quite a lof of bashing of bishops in prisons already.