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Worldwide Franciscan order in 'grave' financial distress

December 19, 2014

The worldwide leader of the Franciscans has revealed that the religious order is in “grave” financial difficulties, and that Italian civil officials have been asked to investigate irregularities in the conduct of the order’s financial affairs.

In a letter to all Franciscan friars, dated December 17, Brother Michael Perry, the minister general of the order, outlined “a grave situation in which the General Curia of the Order now finds itself.” He asks for understanding from the world’s Franciscan communities and also for contributions to help resolve the situation, “which involves also the repayment of significant debts.”

In September, Brother Perry discloses, the leadership of the order opened an investigation into the affairs of the general treasurer. That inquiry unearthed evidence of problems that led to the resignation of the treasurer and raised further questions about the propriety of financial activities—both by Franciscan friars and by outsiders handling the order’s legal affairs.

Brother Perry reported:

First, the General Curia finds itself in grave, and I underscore ‘grave’ financial difficulty, with a significant burden of debt. Second, the systems of financial oversight and control for the management of the patrimony of the Order were either too weak or were compromised, thus limiting their effectiveness to guarantee responsible, transparent management. We have initiated steps to address these concerns. Third, there appears to have taken place a number of questionable financial activities that were conducted by friars entrusted with the care of the patrimony of the Order without the full knowledge or consent of the former and current General Definitorium. Because of the scope and magnitude of these activities, they have placed the financial stability of the General Curia at grave risk.


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  • Posted by: Kitty01 - Dec. 19, 2014 4:29 PM ET USA

    This makes it sound like all the franciscan orders are in distress due to sloppy bookkeeping. There are so many different groups - all unrelated and all Franciscans. True they are all followers of St. Francis but they are independent of each other. Cathy