Major Scandal in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit?

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posted on Oct, 13 2012 @ 10:12 PM
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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 transparency?

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:

www.washingtonpost.com...

ncronline.org...
edit on 13-10-2012 by CookieMonster09 because: (no reason given)


 
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posted on Oct, 13 2012 @ 10:14 PM
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I can probably get to the archdiocese myself, I have the balls enough to go there



posted on Oct, 13 2012 @ 10:34 PM
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reply to post by CookieMonster09
 

"Major scandal," "Criminal investigation," Where are you getting those ideas from? You've shown nothing to support either of those ideas.


The Center's original purpose was to explore the intersection of faith and culture through interactive displays, academic discussion and research, and museum exhibits. The academic discussions and special events reportedly have been successful. However, the center could not overcome optimistic attendance and financial projections that were based upon anticipated paid admissions. The new center was affected by a downturn in visitors following the 9/11 attack in the Washington, DC region just six months after opening and then an economic recession.

en.wikipedia.org...

It would have been nice had it made money, but as you pointed out it lost $9300 a day for ten years. Some bad judgment maybe, some unexpected events maybe, but "criminal?" Not based on what you've provided.

And, of course, the story is over a year old, so I suspect Detroit is no longer being "rocked" by it.



posted on Oct, 13 2012 @ 10:50 PM
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"Major scandal," "Criminal investigation," Where are you getting those ideas from? You've shown nothing to support either of those ideas.


It's a $34 Million "loss" by one man. It has all the earmarks of a scam: Single decision-maker, foreign bank, location in another state, no other Archdiocese involved, retirement in the Cayman Islands, no transparency, no committee oversight, etc.

It's up to the Archdiocese to come clean.



It would have been nice had it made money, but as you pointed out it lost $9300 a day for ten years. Some bad judgment maybe, some unexpected events maybe, but "criminal?" Not based on what you've provided.


See above. Sure, you can blame this on "mismanagement". Doubtful. Not with this kind of money. We are talking tens of millions of dollars siphoned from Detroit parishioners. Not chump change.



And, of course, the story is over a year old, so I suspect Detroit is no longer being "rocked" by it.

Au contraire. Many churches will be closed here before the end of the year. Many schools have already been closed and will close. Sure would have been nice to have that $34 Million to keep them open.

53 parishes will merge or close:

www.deseretnews.com...

And, let me ask you this: Even when the building was being proposed, we still had record homeless, record unemployment, and record poverty in Detroit. One of the chief roles of the Archdiocese includes helping the poor. And they go and build a cultural center...in another state, mind you?

Does this make any sense? It doesn't, unless you want your pockets lined. The archbishop could have cared less about the working poor in Detroit.
edit on 13-10-2012 by CookieMonster09 because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 13 2012 @ 11:22 PM
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The guy is 82 years old, and he's in the Cayman Islands because he was appointed to be the Superior of the Mission there in 2000. He's there because he was sent there.

I have no problem agreeing that people can feel the money he borrowed should have been spent differently. I don't have enough facts. Did the finance people tell him that the center would be a money maker and would pay off the loan by itself? Was he under orders from Rome to do it, regardless? No one knows.

If he had spent the money on the homeless, wouldn't the parishes still be closing? And if he tried to keep the parishes running without contributions from the parishoners, the $34 million would disappear into dozens of failing projects instead of just one.

Again, to say that because a project failed, the guy that ran it is a criminal is unjustified and unsupported by the facts you've shown. (Besides, if that was the case, the present administration would be down to three deputy assistant undersecretaries, and the guy that makes the coffee.)



posted on Oct, 13 2012 @ 11:45 PM
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How is this a major scandal?

I see a fair number of stupid decisions, but the money raised for this sort of thing is voluntary, so if they sold the idea to people, and it just didn't work out, even though it was begun in good faith, does this result in a scandal?



posted on Oct, 14 2012 @ 07:36 AM
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The guy is 82 years old, and he's in the Cayman Islands because he was appointed to be the Superior of the Mission there in 2000. He's there because he was sent there.

Doubtful. He is in the Cayman Islands because it is a known tax haven. Someone has to hide illicit funds. No doubt he acted in collusion with his superiors to get this boon-doggle of a project orchestrated.




I have no problem agreeing that people can feel the money he borrowed should have been spent differently. I don't have enough facts. Did the finance people tell him that the center would be a money maker and would pay off the loan by itself? Was he under orders from Rome to do it, regardless? No one knows.


Well, the project certainly wasn't done with the approval of the laity in metro-Detroit. That's the problem. The secrecy was broken when a National Catholic reporter broke the story. They have been trying to keep this story hush hush for years now.




If he had spent the money on the homeless, wouldn't the parishes still be closing? And if he tried to keep the parishes running without contributions from the parishoners, the $34 million would disappear into dozens of failing projects instead of just one.


If you invested $34 Million into low risk investments, the dividends alone could have built a new homeless shelter alone every year for the past decade.

Regardless, the money could have been allocated for a variety of Detroit-related needs: keeping the churches afloat in a down economy, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, etc.

The fact remains that this was a huge gamble. Maida moved all of his chips into this platter, and the platter fell.

In most large organizations, you have checks and balances with a committee, and a risk policy statement that emphasizes conservative diversification of your investments. Apparently, Maida called all the shots himself.



Again, to say that because a project failed, the guy that ran it is a criminal is unjustified and unsupported by the facts you've shown. (Besides, if that was the case, the present administration would be down to three deputy assistant undersecretaries, and the guy that makes the coffee.)

I said it had the earmarks of a criminal enterprise, and a thorough audit and investigation should be completed. To me, it stinks to high heaven. But let's let an outside third-party prosecutor investigate the facts.




How is this a major scandal?


Um, when you embezzle, er..."lose" $34 Million, it raises a lot of questions.

This is a huge scandal because the repercussions of this boon-doggle are enormous. The Archdiocese is now forced to close nearly a third of its churches because it doesn't have the funds to keep them open.

The funds were wasted on this building - a building financed by a foreign bank, without committee oversight, without financial support from any other archdiocese, and without any oversight whatsoever - no transparency.

It's a huge scandal here in metro-Detroit, because some of these churches that have been around for over 100 years or more are now going to be closed.




I see a fair number of stupid decisions, but the money raised for this sort of thing is voluntary, so if they sold the idea to people, and it just didn't work out, even though it was begun in good faith, does this result in a scandal?


Yes. See above.



posted on Oct, 14 2012 @ 07:55 AM
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If you think this is bad, I have a worse story for you that involves not just Catholics, but ALL Americans. It makes this 34 Million dollars look like spit in the ocean. It Barrack Hussein Obama's $16 Trillion deficit!
www.cbsnews.com...$16-trillion-should-you-worry/
But I don't here much squawking about that.



posted on Oct, 14 2012 @ 11:36 AM
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Originally posted by CookieMonster09


How is this a major scandal?


Um, when you embezzle, er..."lose" $34 Million, it raises a lot of questions.

This is a huge scandal because the repercussions of this boon-doggle are enormous. The Archdiocese is now forced to close nearly a third of its churches because it doesn't have the funds to keep them open.

The funds were wasted on this building - a building financed by a foreign bank, without committee oversight, without financial support from any other archdiocese, and without any oversight whatsoever - no transparency.

It's a huge scandal here in metro-Detroit, because some of these churches that have been around for over 100 years or more are now going to be closed.


Your numbers don't appear to be adding up to the conclusion that you've reached. From the National Catholic Register editorial linked to the article that you posted:


Unfortunately, such is not the case for Catholics in the Detroit archdiocese who, when the deal is finalized, will be left with a loss of $34 million.

Okay, so the $34 million loss is in the future, once the deal selling the joint to the KoC is done.


The reality, however, is that while the Detroit metro area includes rather affluent suburbs, the city of Detroit has for a long time been one of the poorest U.S. cities by many measures. Since 2000, the archdiocese has closed more than three dozen schools, and more than 60 parishes have been either closed or merged.

... and the schools and parishes have closed "since 2000", and there isn't a necessary causal relationship. In the area of Minnesota that I live in, I'm aware of four parishes that have "either closed or merged" since 2000, and we have no connection to Detroit or Archbishop what's-his-name.


Let’s just say $34 million would have gone a long way toward aiding the lives of the poor.

Well, that's true, but, let's face it, you can say that about anything, right? I gave the local Archdiocese $100 last week to help restore the St. Paul Cathedral, I suppose I should have given it to the poor instead.


It is heartening to learn that Archbishop Allen Vigneron, upon taking charge in 2009, immediately went about a thorough review of finances and reform of structures that should lead to much wider consultation and transparency about financial matters in the future.

Again, what major scandal? It sounds like three years ago they put the kibosh on this stuff so that it won't happen again.

(All cites on this post are from here: National Catholic Reporter)
edit on 14-10-2012 by adjensen because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 14 2012 @ 03:17 PM
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Okay, so the $34 million loss is in the future, once the deal selling the joint to the KoC is done.

In the meantime, until the sale finalizes, the Archdiocese is at a loss even larger than $34 Million. The financial cost to the Archdiocese right now is around $54 Million. Plus, it has to pay upwards of $65,000 per month just to maintain the facility:

"The sale brings sighs of relief to the Detroit archdiocese, which has loaned the center more than $54 million under an arrangement worked out by former archbishop Cardinal Adam J. Maida, the driving force behind establishment of the facility. The archdiocese will be left with a loss of at least $34 million when the sale is finalized."

ncronline.org...

There is no denying the math. The losses are real and tangible. This is not a "future" loss, this is real money that came directly from parishioners that went towards building this facility.

It cost upwards of $75 Million to build the building. The Archdiocese took a $23 Million loan from a bank in Ireland. The Archdiocese funded the remainder through parishioner funds.

So, yeah, it's actually much more financially painful now then it will be once the building gets sold.



... and the schools and parishes have closed "since 2000", and there isn't a necessary causal relationship. In the area of Minnesota that I live in, I'm aware of four parishes that have "either closed or merged" since 2000, and we have no connection to Detroit or Archbishop what's-his-name.


I cannot speak to Minnesota. This article is about Detroit. We are shuttering about 1/3 of all of our parishes here in metro-Detroit. These closures a direct result of financial losses associated with this massive fraud that has been perpetrated on the Catholic parishioners here.

I know this firsthand. The parish I attend will likely close before year-end. The upkeep and maintenance on some of these older churches is quite costly. When we pay the local church our weekly tithes, these funds are to be used to keep the church in good repair, to pay the priest and staff, and to help the local community. Parishioners never intended for their tithes to go towards some "cultural center" some 500 miles away.

The National Catholic Reporter puts it best:

"The reality, however, is that while the Detroit metro area includes rather affluent suburbs, the city of Detroit has for a long time been one of the poorest U.S. cities by many measures. Since 2000, the archdiocese has closed more than three dozen schools, and more than 60 parishes have been either closed or merged.

Let’s just say $34 million would have gone a long way toward aiding the lives of the poor.

This, indeed, was a theft from the poor, a crime made more egregious by the fact that Maida felt free to use the people’s money to his own ends without consulting anyone. The episode represents the worst side of the hierarchical culture that remains above accountability. This was the prince serving the image of his king, no questions please. And when the boondoggle was finally uncovered and the natural questions posed, the only answer forthcoming was: “We just don’t talk about our investments.”"

ncronline.org...



Well, that's true, but, let's face it, you can say that about anything, right? I gave the local Archdiocese $100 last week to help restore the St. Paul Cathedral, I suppose I should have given it to the poor instead.


That's what I intend to do. Give directly to the poor. I will no longer support my local parish, as unfortunate as that is. The Archdiocese has completely lost my trust in their ability to be good stewards.



Again, what major scandal? It sounds like three years ago they put the kibosh on this stuff so that it won't happen again.


The scandal is the lack of transparency, and the arrogance of a single individual to dip into the coffers of Archdiocese funds to build this monstrosity. It has all the earmarks of a business failure, but it also has all the earmarks of a colossal fraud. The secrecy has been evident.

At no time has the Archdiocese been forthcoming about transparency to the parishioners. It's been a hush-hush secrecy and "sweep this under the rug" debacle. An investigation needs to be done into exactly how these funds were diverted, and under whose authority.

A full audit needs to be conducted by an outside forensic accounting firm to ensure that there were no kick-back's to the hierarchy as part of the construction funding.

Misappropriation of funds is a criminal offense. That's the scandal. The closure of dozens of Catholic schools and churches in the area due to this misappropriation of funds is a massive scandal. The loss of $34 Million of parishioner funds - That's the scandal.
edit on 14-10-2012 by CookieMonster09 because: (no reason given)



posted on Oct, 14 2012 @ 03:21 PM
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If you think this is bad, I have a worse story for you that involves not just Catholics, but ALL Americans. It makes this 34 Million dollars look like spit in the ocean. It Barrack Hussein Obama's $16 Trillion deficit! www.cbsnews.com...$16-trillion-should-you-worry/ But I don't here much squawking about that.


I agree with you, but your point is off-topic. The focus here is on a local Archdiocese in Detroit that misappropriated funds. The Archdiocese was grossly negligent in their financial stewardship duties. What happens in national politics is a whole other conversation.



posted on Oct, 14 2012 @ 04:14 PM
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reply to post by CookieMonster09
 


That isn't how accounting works, but whatever.

I'm sorry that your parish is closing, and it's very unfortunate that this has happened, but it does seem from the article that the new Archbishop has already put the changes in place to prevent it from happening again, so this seems more like sensationalism than anything else.



posted on Oct, 14 2012 @ 06:27 PM
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That isn't how accounting works, but whatever.

The parishioners in Detroit have already funded the building of this project, to the tune of over $50 Million, a portion of which was in the form of a bank loan from a foreign bank, guaranteed by the Archdiocese (ultimately, the parishioners).

We continue to pay over $65,000 per month just to maintain the building. These are real dollars, not make-believe.

Once the building is sold, the parishioners will recoup a little over $22 Million from the sale of the building, winding up with having lost $34 Million.

$34 Million is a huge loss for a city like Detroit.

This is $34 Million in real dollars that vanished into thin air due to the incompetence and potentially fraudulent nature of the construction of this building. It's all laid out pretty clear in the articles cited.



I'm sorry that your parish is closing, and it's very unfortunate that this has happened, but it does seem from the article that the new Archbishop has already put the changes in place to prevent it from happening again, so this seems more like sensationalism than anything else.


I have little faith now in the current Archdiocese until a full audit is completed, and a criminal prosecutor or investigative committee conducts a full investigation. The current archbishop has given scant details on the nature of this loss, and not a single person has been held accountable for this massive loss of money.

They will receive no further funds from my family until the Archdiocese comes clean with what really happened here.





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