Yesterday was another sad day in our diocese. A priest (Frank Guinan) was found guilty of stealing church funds to spend on vacations, gambling, jewelry for a female friend, tuition for his friend's daughter, and more. Overall, he was guilty not just of criminal mis-deeds but of moral ones as well that hurt the priesthood and the Catholic Church. Here is a story from one local paper, and honestly, they are not being biased. Often our papers are good at Catholic bashing, this time the truth is bad enough, no embellishing needed.
Sadly, the actions of a few (we have had our share of problems down here) make it difficult for the many. Today a parishioner called the office and said to stop sending her offertory envelopes because she can no longer give to the church. When asked if we had done something to upset her, she said it really had nothing to do with us, but had to do with this conviction.
According to a poll taken one news site, 63% of the people who answered said this theft will definitely make them re-considering giving money to the Catholic church.
One of the most disturbing parts of the trial were priests who were put on the stand who actually saw nothing wrong with what Guinan did as far as taking money from the collection. One priest said, "Well, you have no idea what it's like to be a priest," as to why it was okay to steal the money.
The defense tried to say the diocese was at fault since they give a $50,000 discretionary fund for the pastor to spend without approval from the diocese. However, this is for parish expenses, the poor, or an emergency. Vacationing in the Bahamas is not an emergency.
I hope that our diocese will work toward better parish financial controls and that we can heal from yet another hurt.