Brasilia, Brazil, Mar 21, 2018 / 12:58 pm
A Catholic bishop, five priests and other administrative officials in the Brazilian state of Goiás have been arrested on accusations of embezzling more than two million reales (about $600,000) from the Catholic Church.
Bishop José Ronaldo of the Diocese of Formosa was among those arrested March 19, as part of operation "Caiaphas." Among other findings, the operation discovered 70,000 reales (about $21,000) in cash in a cabinet with a false bottom. The cabinet belonged to Fr. Epitácio Cardoso Pereira, in the Planaltina township.
In wake of these developments, Pope Francis on March 21 appointed the Archbishop of Uberaba, Paulo Mendes Peixoto, as apostolic administrator of the diocese.
According to prosecutors, the embezzled money comes from tithes, donations, stipends for baptisms and weddings from churches. Authorities said the diversion of money has been going on since 2015 when the bishop took possession of the Diocese of Formosa.