Have you heard about the scandal that is rocking the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit? Churches and Catholic schools are being closed left and
right, and Catholics here are angry as ever.
To make matters worse, the Archdiocese lost $34 Million of parishioner funds from a botched scam to build a cultural center dedicated to the late Pope
John Paul II in....Washington D.C., not Detroit. (Yep, you read that right.)
Here is some background from the National Catholic Reporter:
Cardinal Adam Maida, who retired as archbishop of Detroit in 2009, first proposed the idea of the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center to the pope
when he (Maida) was still bishop of Green Bay, Wis. (1984-90). It may or may not have influenced the pope to appoint Maida to Detroit. More than four
years later he was named a cardinal.
The center was subsequently erected in Washington, D.C., at a cost of $75 million. It was expected to more than pay for itself as a tourist attraction
and a think tank. That never happened, as some predicted at the time.
The center opened in March 2001 and has just been sold to the Knights of Columbus for $22.7 million. That's a lot of money, of course, but it
represents a $34 million loss for the Detroit archdiocese.
Full article can be found here: ncronline.org...
Honestly, I don't know why there wasn't a criminal investigation into the Archdiocese of Detroit regarding this matter. But it smells rotten. The
whole issue raises all kinds of questions:
Why would you secure funding from a foreign bank, when there are hundreds of local banks in metro-Detroit that could fund such a project as the John
Paul II Cultural Center? What are you hiding by using a foreign bank?
Why weren't there other Archdioceses involved (Chicago, Cleveland, NYC, Washington D.C., etc.)? Usually, for a project this large you would pool
resources. Instead, only the Detroit Archdiocese got the shaft.
Why did they build the John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington D.C., and not Detroit? Detroit could use the tourist dollars, and we have a huge
Catholic population here. Why Washington D.C.? Again, was the Archdiocese trying to keep the project out of the limelight of the Detroit Catholic
population - Meaning, if you build the building in another state, it will draw less scrutiny and attention from the local Catholics that are actually
funding the project?
Why wasn't there a committee overseeing the funding of the project? From everything I have read, this project was orchestrated with little oversight,
and decisions were made by one archbishop.
Where is the transparency for the budget, monthly construction draw schedule, etc. for the members of the Archdiocese to review? How do you know the
project wasn't over-priced, or put out to bid properly? How do you know if there were or were not bribes or kick-backs to cronies without
Why is this same retired Archbishop now living in the Cayman Islands? Doesn't that sound fishy? How many priests or religious do you know that retire
to a vacation hot spot, and a well-known tax haven for criminals and drug fiends? (Kickbacks, anyone?)
Where is the public outcry? We are talking about $34 Million dollars that was siphoned from helping the poor and downtrodden in Detroit!
Why is it that the only buyer that the Archdiocese could find was the brotherhood fraternity, the Knights of Columbus?
The whole thing from the outside smacks of corruption and greed. It stinks to high heaven. Just the appearance and superficial details smell bad. It
would be nice for a prosecutor to do a thorough investigation into the matter. Of course, the Archdiocese would just say it was a project that went
wrong, well-intended, but a disaster. They'll blame it on human error.
This building sat vacant for years and years. Maintenance alone every month ran tens of thousands of dollars just to maintain the building. Even the
choice of location was chosen poorly. According to the article posted above:
"Within five years of its opening, it was $36 million in debt to the Detroit archdiocese because of the loans. The amount rose to more than $54
million today, a portion of which included an average of $65,000 per month for upkeep, which the archdiocese continued to pay even while it marketed
the center for sale during the past 18 months.
Unfortunately, Maida made the loans without consultation with the priests or laity of the archdiocese. It was only after the NCR (National
Catholic Reporter) reported on the debt in a February 2006 story that he acknowledged the financial scope of the loans in a letter to the archdiocese.
Maida's successor, Allen Vigneron, has been left to pick up the pieces."
Unfortunate indeed. That's the understatement of the century. Tell that to the working poor in Detroit.
According to the articles posted above, the Archdiocese lost $34 Million on this fiasco. That money would have gone a long way towards helping the
homeless and poor in Detroit.
More background articles here:
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