Our sister agency, ACI Prensa, sent a legal "transparency request" to the government of Mexico City in October 2020 to find out how that publication was financed and how many copies were printed, without obtaining a response to date.
In an email sent Jan. 12, 2021 to Virginia Priano, communications director of the Pontifical Foundation, ACI Prensa asked how much money was invested and how much was received in donations with the publication of "With Francis by my Side." They also asked Scholas Occurrentes about whether the books actually received the approval of Pope Francis and the Vatican.
Priano did not respond to the email nor to a reminder sent on Feb. 2. On Feb. 3, after initially answering a call, Priano hung up and proceeded to block the number of ACI Prensa's investigative journalist.
Scholas Occurrentes says on its website, "we are an institution and we are a story, the story of our own walk. We are what we tell ourselves and what they tell us about ourselves ... an institution open to encounter that re-creates us. Like a work of art, guarding the differences, we go about listening to what is unique about Scholas."
In addition, it establishes its origin "in the City of Buenos Aires when Jorge Bergoglio was Archbishop under the name of 'School of Neighbors', integrating students from public and private schools, of all religious backgrounds in order to educate young people as citizens in the commitment for the common good."
Scholas Occurrentes claim to have "offices in Argentina, Chile, Vatican City, Colombia, Spain, the United States, Haiti, Japan, Italy, Mexico, Mozambique, Panama, Paraguay, Portugal and Romania". ACI Prensa knows that the supposed headquarters in the United States ceased to operate in 2020.
It also claims to have a presence "with its network in 190 countries, integrating more than 400,000 educational centers and reaching more than 1 million children and young people around the world."
Scholas Occurrentes was officially constituted May 14, 2015 in Spain "at the request of the Holy See," and its purposes include "promoting, improving education and achieving the integration of communities, with a focus on those who lack resources," as well as "promoting awareness campaigns on human values."
On Aug. 15, 2015, the foundation was established in Argentina. That same day, Pope Francis signed a pontifical decree establishing Scholas Occurrentes "as a Foundation of Pontifical Law," describing it as a "worldwide network of schools that share their assets, have common objectives, giving special attention to those who lack resources."
Since then Scholas has its headquarters at the Vatican property of San Calixto in Trastevere, next to several other Vatican dependencies and official international Catholic organizations.
The Scholas Occurrentes Pontifical Foundation launched on 2020 its "Universidad del Sentido" ("The University of the Sense"), a series of virtual conferences whose speakers included well-known promoters of legal abortion such as Argentine philosopher Darío Sztajnszrajber and writer Luisa Valenzuela.
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ACI Prensa has had access to financial documents from Scholas Occurrentes that reveal how, without building a single school for children and young people with limited resources in any part of the world, the pontifical foundation receives millions of dollars in donations and agreements.
However, a significant amount of those millions of dollars have been used to pay for fees, travel, and offices.
In 2016 alone, Scholas Occurrentes spent nearly $5.2 million on "professional fees" for its Argentine subsidiary and another $1 million on "temporary fees."
They also used more than $448,000 for "salaries and social charges." In "office rentals," Scholas Occurrentes spent more than $324,000 that year. Another $300,000 went to "mobile phones." The sums, in the context of Latin American economies, are significantly higher than any other non for profit organizations.
In their project, "Creation of a World Social Network based on Education: Scholas," the pontifical foundation states that "the Pope is a key asset for Scholas and therefore a development model is necessary that allows Scholas Global to have broad control over the use of its brand in all its chapters / headquarters."
Queries sent by ACI Prensa to Scholas Occurrentes about the use of personalities openly opposed to Catholic teachings and the use of millions of dollars received in donations remain unanswered since September 2020.