Bishop José Ronaldo Ribeiro, above, has been arrested in Brazil. He and several Catholic other priests are accused of fleecing the faithful to the tune of around $600,000 (£425,000).
According to this report, the arrests took place as part of an operation called “Caiphas,” which began at the crack of dawn on Monday.
Close to a dozen people, including Ribeiro, the diocesan Vicar General, and four other priests are accused of conspiracy to commit a crime and of having diverted resources from the Diocese of Formosa
Before being appointed to Formosa, he served for seven years as bishop of Janaúba, a city north of the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, where he was also accused of irregularities that were never investigated.
The ongoing investigation by prosecutors and police started in 2015, following complaints by parishioners. In an interview with local media two years ago, the Bishop denied any wrong-doing, saying that the money collected from parishes was used to pay for the maintenance of priest’s residences, seminaries, and other church buildings.
According to prosecutors, the money came from church collections boxes, donations, as well as wedding and baptism fees.
Since being appointed to Formosa, the bishop has refused to give an account of diocesan funds, and in January the parishioners decided to stage a protest urging transparency by withholding their donations from the collection plate.
The center-west section of the Brazilian Bishops’ Bonference (CNBB) released a statement on Monday, saying they are:
United in prayer, participating in the pain of the diocesan church of Formosa.
The statement also says that the President of the regional CNBB, Bishop Messias dos Reis Silveira, of Uruaçu, was in Formosa to represent of Pope Francis at the request of the Vatican’s embassy in Brazil.
The bishop, the statement said, is in Formosa:
To express the solidarity and closeness of the nunciature with the church of Formosa and also with the diocesan bishop.
The statement notes:
The investigation and clarification of facts are still in progress.
Brazil is also in the news regarding a “blasphemous” play given a green light by a Brazilian judge, who lifted a ban on “The Gospel According To Jesus, Queen Of Heaven”.
Back in 2015 we reported that the play by transgender Scottish playwright Jo Clifford, above, had caused outrage among Christians when it was staged in Glasgow and elsewhere. Protesters held up signs that read:
God: My son is not a pervert.
Well, similar outrage spread to Brazil where it was adapted by Argentinian-born director Natalio Mallo.
Conservative Christians fought performance of the play, which portrays Jesus as a transgender, with petitions claiming that:
The performance of this horrific spectacle is equal to the persecution suffered by Christians in the first centuries when they were thrown to wild animals in the arenas of Rome as a form of entertainment.
An injunction was then slapped on the play, preventing it being staged in São Paulo. But this was overturned by Judge J L Mônaco da Silva of the São Paulo Court of Justice who ruled that the injunction was censorship and “cultural aggression”. He added:
People might not agree with the content of the show. But that’s not enough reason to knock on the doors of the court to ban its performance. Just don’t watch it!
Hat tip: BarrieJohn (both reports)