|Franciscans at Prayer|
(Assisi / Rome) the information is still scarce and the situation is quite opaque. The headline is, however: Is The Franciscan Order (OFM) In Bankruptcy? What role did Father Rodriguez Carballo have? The transactions occurred during his tenure as Minister General of the Order. In 2013 he was appointed by Pope Francis as secretary of the religious congregation.
Worldwide, there are just over 14,000 Franciscans, the next come Minorites (OFM Conv) and Capuchins (OFM Cap) who form one of the three branches of directly going back to Saint Francis of Assisi's first order. Characteristic features are the coarse brown tunics with a white rope and the rope symbol, called the cross of St. Anthony.
"Financial Shortfall" in Italy - Money Laundering in Switzerland?
For three months, the order's accounts have been reviewed by the General Curia. According to the Italian weekly magazine Panorama, the result is clear: there was a "financial shortfall" of tens of millions of euros. The Order, or rather the religious leadership, was deeply in debt and risking bankruptcy.
The starting point were the checks after the Swiss prosecutor's office last October, which seized accounts of the Franciscan Order seized with tens of millions of euros. They were suspect to have invested in companies that serve as money laundering.
The investments in Switzerland were made in the administration of José Rodriguez Carballo as Minister General. Rodriguez Carballo was, from 2003-2013, the 119th Minister General of the Order. On April 6, 2013, he was appointed by Pope Francis as secretary of the religious congregation. As such, he immediately gained notoriety because of the provisional administration of another Franciscan Order, the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate . The appointment of Carballos Rodriguez was the first major personnel decision of the current pontificate.
According to Panorama the mendicant orders of the "Poverello" of Assisi are liable to be killed by a mountain of debt and be insolvent. Specifically, it's about two different erroneous developments that might be related. In the first case there is the suspicion of deliberate mismanagement in Italy there by foreign persons may have enriched themselves with the help of the members of the orders. On the other hand it comes to bank accounts in Switzerland, which were confiscated by the Prosecutor.
Deposed General Treasurer of the Order
The minus due to mismanagement was, among other things, accumulated through the reconstruction of the hotel Il Cantico in Via Gregorio VII in Rome. The hotel management included the former General Treasurer of the Order, Father Giancarlo Lati. Meanwhile, he was replaced by Father Silvio De La Fuente. Officially "for health reasons" as the Order had announced. The Financial Administration of the Order is the focus of the investigation.
The Order is finding itself concerned about "financial difficulties in a critical situation," according to Father Michael Perry who has held office since 2013 as New Minister General.
The Swiss investigation must first be confirmed. If the seizure is to be valid, the question arises as to who is responsible. It is clear that there are more than 14,000 brothers who will suffer most because few have done wrong to the Order.
Persons Outside the Order and Members of Religious Order Under Suspicion
There are several "persons who are not members of the religious order" under suspicion. We are talking about maxi-rraud. After the internal checks it says in the Order, that the control and security mechanisms have been "compromised" or are "too weak" in financial matters. A more detailed clarification of who did and who did not play a role is sought.
In addition, "there seems to be a certain number of dubious financial operations made by brothers, who had been entrusted to the custody of the finances," said the Minister General. "The extent and scope of these operations have brought the financial stability of the General Curia in great danger."
It seems that both brothers as well as some persons foreign persons outside the order have put the Order into the jeopardy and caused great financial loss. General Minister Perry turned to the competent authorities in Italy after completion of internal audits. The "competent ecclesiastical centers" were well informed.
State authorities and the Vatican informed - begging letter to Provincials
The General Minister has asked all religious provincials for "financial aid" for the General Curia "to meet its payment obligations and above all to pay the high passive interest."
The General Government commissioned a "qualified legal counsel" to take the necessary steps. After the dismissal of the former Treasurer General, Father Pasquale Del Pezzo was called in turn to Rome. As special representative, all economic and financial functions are under the care of the General Curia.
He understood the "frustration" many brethren, as Minister General Perry. It was an "encouragement" to follow the example of Pope Francis, who had prompted with a "call for truth and transparency in the financial activities of the Church and of society."
In the Franciscan monasteries scattered all over the globe, there is much surprise. "With the contents of the letter I have" said the Minister General "thorough agreement," said Father Rosario Gugliotta, the curator of the Portiuncula Chapel and the Basilica of Santa Maria degli Angeli in Assisi, the most important church of the Franciscan Order.
What is the responsibility ex-Minister General Rodriguez Carballo?
Curia Archbishop Father José Rodriguez Carballo was Minister General, as the shady financial transactions were carried out with the assets of the Order. As secretary of the religious congregation, he signed, together with Cardinal Prefect Joao Braz de Aviz, the new "guidelines" because the Order's property was lackadaisically managed. In early August they were published.
He will also have to answer questions internally and answer questions. Whether Swiss Justice will deal with it is not yet clear.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Trans: Tancred firstname.lastname@example.org