Tempest is brewing in one of the richest dioceses in the Philippines.
Priests and lay leaders have asked the Apostolic Nuncio to the Philippines, Archbishop Giuseppe Pinto, to look into the finances of the Diocese of Parañaque under Bishop Jesse Mercado for alleged misuse of funds.
They also want Mercado removed, for sowing division among the clergy for his double-standard policy.
As is the usual practice of most Church officials, Mercado chose to remain silent. He ignored requests for interviews, either by text or by email.
Rappler.com also called his mobile number several times to no avail.
After meeting with the papal representative a few times, the priests and lay leaders finally secured a commitment from Pinto that he will refer the complaint to the Curia in Rome.
The move comes on the heels of growing sensitivity within the Catholic Church hierarchy on the issue of finances. This follows the backlash on the leaks of documents in the Vatican.
Complaints against a bishop endorsed to the Vatican are handled by the Congregation for Bishops. “If they find preliminary merit, Rome sends someone or appoints a retired archbishop or bishop to investigate and evaluate the case. Then the report is sent back to the Vatican,” a retired archbishop explained.
Mercado is being accused of diverting multimillion donations for victims of typhoons and other calamities.
This is in violation of the Church law, or the Canon 1300 which states that “the intentions of the faithful who give or leave goods to pious causes…once lawfully accepted, are to be most carefully observed, even in the manner of the administration and the expending of the goods…”
In simpler terms, the Church law states that the donation must be used for the intended purpose.
Still, this is just the tip of the controversy.
In one letter submitted to the Papal Nuncio, one disgruntled priest indicated a “pattern of misuse of the (diocese’s) funds” and said that “there are more anomalous practices to be uncovered.”
“The clergy and the laity have been questioning the lack of transparency and we are concerned that if this is not addressed properly and immediately, this potential scandal would really hurt our Church especially our young diocese,” the priest added.
Report from Rappler.com