Mangaluru: We have heard many stories in the past about embezzlement and misappropriation of collection money by Catholic priests. Many priests have been indicted for allegedly embezzling large amount of money, sometimes over a period of decades. Embezzlement is often a problem of nonprofit organizations, but Catholic parishes may be particularly vulnerable because of the antiquated ways in which they often gather money, through donations, fund raising events or Sunday collections.. Here is yet another story that I have come to know through various sources, including few parishioners, as to how their Parish priest gone missing for over a week, has been involved in money fraud. Seems like these days, some of the Catholic priests don’t practice what they preach to the faithful ?.
Just to be clear, I am not running this article to be critical of the Catholic Church but only as a warning, consistent with the fraud and deception concerns that I am posting here. Apart from donations from the parishioners locally and abroad, the parish also collects money through tithing (Sunday Church collection). I was raised as a Catholic by my devoted parents, went to a Catholic grade school, High school and College and even served as an “altar boy”. And as a grown up man, I practice my faith very seriously and feel proud to be a Roman Catholic.
Few of the parishioners belonging to Holy Cross Church-Cordel/Kulshekar whom I met this morning after mass were eager and ready to speak out about their Parish Priest Fr Valerian Pinto (who is now transferred and will take charge as parish priest of Fajir church on 4 June. God bless this church!) whom they believe has swindled church funds to the tune of over Rs one crore. I learned that while few of the parishioners have stood behind their parish priest and forgiven him for his acts, but quite a few members of the parish council didn’t wanted this issue to go unattended, and so they have spread the actual facts- and many parishioners have gathered all those information and are sharing it with others, including the media.
Alwyn P, a parishioner speaking to mangalorean.com said, “As per what I have heard from the few of the parish council members after the council meeting that was held on 24 May 2015, many believe that our parish priest has scammed over Rs 1 crore, by way of adjusting/paying over the estimated costs of certain church projects. Seems like every new project that was undertaken by Fr Pinto has been over billed, thereby resulting in scam/fraud. I have also got the news from the council members that Fr Pinto has even transferred nearly Rs 8 lakhs of church funds into the bank accounts of couple of his relatives. It is also found that Fr Pinto has even withdrawn money through ‘self’ made cheques and done payments to contractors the illegal way”.
Severine VS, yet another parishioner said, “It’s really a shame for us that we belonged to this parish under Fr Pinto as parish priest. Even in spite of the news being aired on VH and other sources, I don’t know why the Bishop has kept quite and not taking action. This speaks that something fishy is going on. If Fr Valerian Pinto admits that he has done nothing wrong or scammed money, why did he go missing for days right after the 24 May Council meeting. How come all of a sudden he was admitted to a hospital in the outskirts of Mangaluru, when there are so many hospitals in the City, -he could have been treated at Fr Muller’s Hospital, Kankanady run by the diocese? I think these are all the games someone is playing to save the face of the priest and the concerned authorities.”
After getting some of the details pertaining to this scam issue, I contacted Vice President of Holy Cross Parish Council, Praveen Patrao, who said to me that since he was busy with the preparations of the new priest taking over as parish priest there this evening (3 June), that he would definitely furnish me with more details tomorrow. So keep your fingers crossed as to what information I will get from the VP, and publish it here on this website. Now that we Catholics have been alerted with this church funds scamming incident, (which could be true or false until someone is proven guilty), do we need to think twice in future before we donate to church or tithe.
I am absolutely convinced on many levels of the importance of tithing. If everyone tithed and gave their donations to responsible entities, I firmly believe we could reduce our tax rate to almost zero, as we would not need to inappropriately rely on government to provide social charity that is far better administered by private entities. Furthermore, I believe a lifetime of personal tithing has a great deal to do with the success I have enjoyed thus far in life, another reason I strongly encourage others to apply this amazing principle in their own lives. From what I understand this works best if you don’t expect anything in return but just do it because you realize that it is the right thing to do.
But what really and deeply saddens me to see so much of the hard earned revenue donated was being embezzled by some of the clergy. So, I feel it is my responsibility to bring this to the attention of those who are attending Catholic churches so they can hold their priests accountable to make sure this does not continue to occur, and that the hard earned donations or tithing (Sunday collection) can really be used to serve those who truly need it. I suspect that the Catholic church is not the only church where embezzlement occurs. So if you are donating to your church my caution is don’t do it blindly. Do it with responsibility.
It is important to be a wise steward of your donations so they are used most effectively. This is not an easy assignment. Most of you reading this won’t have the same problem in finding out how to responsibly distribute your hard earned money, but whatever you donate, make sure that the funds are being used wisely. You never know, you may witness many corrupt, evil, deceptive, & UNHEALTHY things may go on in your church. The truth comes out when someone spills the beans or the concerned church authorities are caught red handed. I believe that those blessed, must return to the neediest, several fold. Or we will have to keep quite and pardon some of these clergy, and follow what Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”