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Franciscan order embroiled in financial crisis

A choir of friars singing at a ceremony honouring St Francis (CNS)

The Franciscans is facing a “grave situation” following an internal investigation into the state of its financial affairs.

In a letter to the order, first reported by Rorate Caeli , Brother Michael A Perry, Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor (OFM), said: “I wish to bring to light a grave situation in which the General Curia of the Order now finds itself. The matter involves our financial stability and the patrimony of the Order. While our first concern has and remains verifying the nature, extent, and impact of what has occurred, we also recognise the significant role that external actors, people who are not members of the Order, have played in creating this grave situation.”

Brother Perry said that one of the key findings of the investigation involves 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.”

He continued by saying that as a result of this finding the order had involved the civil authorities. He said: “Because of the scope and magnitude of these activities, they have placed the financial stability of the General Curia at grave risk. These questionable activities also involve people who are not Franciscan but who appear to have played a central role. For these reasons, the General Definitorium, working in unanimity, has decided to call upon assistance from civil authorities to take up this matter.”

He concluded: “I realise that many of you will be seriously disappointed and discouraged by this situation. It will also raise many questions for which you have a right to a response. I hope in time we will be able to provide more information. It is my intention to give a full account of the whole affair to the General Chapter. In the meantime, the General Definitorium and I call upon your prayer and support as we move forward with these matters and as we prepare for the 2015 General Chapter.”

Brother Perry’s predecessor, Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo, was named secretary for the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in April 2013 by Pope Francis.