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Priest who served at Franciscan University of Steubenville indicted on rape allegations

The Portiuncula Chapel on the campus of the Franciscan University of Steubenville. / Robert Pernett via Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0).

Tacna, Peru, Apr 12, 2021 / 19:08 pm (CNA).

A Franciscan priest who once worked in campus ministry at Franciscan University of Steubenville has been indicted in Ohio for the alleged rape of a female patient who was mentally or physically impaired.


On April 7, Father David Morrier, T.O.R., was indicted in Ohio by the Jefferson County Grand Jury on two charges of sexual battery and a single charge of rape. He was removed from active ministry in 2015 on unspecified sexual misconduct charges, his Franciscan province has said.


The 59-year-old priest is a mental health professional. He allegedly maintained a three-year sexual relationship with a patient the indictment described as “substantially impaired because of a mental or physical condition,” the Steubenville newspaper The Herald Star reports. He allegedly falsely represented to her that sexual conduct was “necessary for mental health treatment purposes.”


An April 9 statement from the Office of the Minister Provincial of the Third Order Regular Franciscans’ Province of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus said that the alleged charges took place between November 2010 and spring 2013.


“Fr. Morrier was removed from public ministry in 2015 due to allegations of sexual misconduct,” the provincial’s office said. “He has not exercised public ministry since that time. Being removed from public ministry means that he has not publicly celebrated Mass or any sacraments. The province has cooperated fully with the investigation into this matter.”


“The province takes all allegations of sexual misconduct seriously and urges anyone who has been a victim of sexual misconduct to call law enforcement officials immediately,” the statement continued.


In an April 8 statement the Diocese of Steubenville said it first became aware of the case “when the alleged victim presented the allegations to the diocese in November 2018.”


“Although Father Morrier is not a priest of the Steubenville Diocese, the diocese began an immediate preliminary investigation with the alleged victim and officers with the Steubenville police department,” the statement said.


“The Diocese of Steubenville submitted a report to the Minister General of the T.O.R.’s in Rome as well as to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Holy See on December 11, 2018. Since that time, the diocese has continued to work with the Steubenville police department and has provided updates on the investigation to the Holy See,” the statement added. The Steubenville diocese said it takes abuse allegations “most seriously” and “encourages victims of abuse to contact the local police department in whose jurisdiction the abuse occurred.”


Morrier was ordained a priest for the Franciscan province in 1997. The charges against him overlap his time as a campus minister at Franciscan University of Steubenville, a position he held through 2014.


An April 8 statement from the Franciscan University of Steubenville said “the university has cooperated and will continue to cooperate fully with authorities concerning the conduct of Father David Morrier, T.O.R., prior to 2014.”


“Franciscan University removed him permanently from campus ministry, and he was also prohibited from returning to campus,” said the university. It did not clarify the timing of the removal.


“Sexual assault is not only a crime but a serious sin,” it added, saying all sexual misconduct complaints face action under the university’s Policy on Discrimination, Harassment and Sexual Misconduct.


“Anyone who may have been harmed while at Franciscan University is offered counseling and other appropriate services,” said the university. “Anyone who experienced or is aware of sexual misconduct at Franciscan University is encouraged to make a report to the University and/or the Steubenville Police Department.”


After Morrier’s time at Steubenville, he appears to have served at a Franciscan church in Arlington, Texas in the Diocese of Fort Worth. According to a cached version of the St. Maria Goretti Catholic Church and School website, Morrier was announced as the new parochial vicar of the parish on May 1, 2014, with his duties beginning June 3 of that year. The parish is run by the Franciscan Friars, Third Order Regular.

Archbishop Cordileone calls for ‘inoculation against racism’

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone speaks at the San Francisco for Unity prayer service against racism. / Dennis Callahan/Archdiocese of San Francisco.

CNA Staff, Apr 12, 2021 / 17:51 pm (CNA).

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco last week condemned violence against Asian people in the United States, drawing comparisons between the COVID-19 vaccine and standing against racism.


“Inoculation against racism can be summed up in one word: virtue,” Cordileone said April 10 at the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption.


The archbishop’s remarks were made at a prayer service “for an end to violence and racism particularly against Asians, for healing for our nation, and for the flourishing of peace and justice in our land.”


The event was held amid recent reports of rising violence against the Asian community in the United States.


The U.S. Census Bureau reports that 36% of people in San Francisco County are of Asian descent. Cordileone noted that immigration from China has been a constant in the city from its beginning, and immigration from other Asian countries is also common in the area. He called it “very disturbing” that “racial violence would rear its ugly head here.”


The archbishop cited Pope Francis, who described racism as “a virus that quickly mutates and, instead of disappearing, goes into hiding, and lurks in waiting.”


Cordileone said “the virus of racism” is a lot like COVID-19. “It never goes away, but there are ways to inoculate oneself against it, even if one has to be always vigilant to protect oneself from being infected.”


He noted that a vaccine will not kill the virus, but instead prevents a person from being harmed if exposed to it.


“But what is our inoculation against racism?” the archbishop questioned. He highlighted the early Christian communities depicted in the Acts of the Apostles as a “good start in answering that question.”


“We see here,” said the bishop, “the qualities that make such a peaceful and harmonious common life possible: each one looked out first and foremost for the good of the other, not what they were going to get out of it.”


Cordileone challenged the congregation to live out the Christian “mission of mercy.” He concluded by listing virtues he thought best acted as the “inoculation against racism” – specifically, “generosity, selflessness, trust and trustworthiness, humility, courage, conviction, forgiveness, and, of course, mercy itself.”


The archbishop encouraged San Franciscans to lead by example and “make our Golden Gate an authentic symbol of a city that will let no stranger wait outside its door.”

After school shooting, Knoxville bishop asks for 'positive solutions' to gun violence

Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville / Catholic News Agency

Washington D.C., Apr 12, 2021 / 17:22 pm (CNA).

Bishop Richard Stika of the Diocese of Knoxville demanded “positive solutions” to gun violence after a fatal shooting at an area high school on Monday. 

“Once again and regrettably, I am asking for prayers for the victims of another terrible shooting in Knoxville,” Bishop Stika wrote in a statement on Monday. “I have been monitoring today’s unfortunate and violent incident and offer my personal prayers for all of the victims, including a law-enforcement officer.”

According to local authorities, one person was killed and a police officer was injured Monday during a shooting at Knoxville’s Austin-East High School. Knoxville police said that officers had responded to reports of an armed male at the school, who was subsequently killed in a shooting when confronted by police, according to ABC 8 News.

One police officer was injured and is recovering at a local hospital with non-life threatening injuries. 

Bishop Stika on Monday decried ongoing acts of violence and called for prayers and “positive solutions.”

“The series of tragic events that has taken place in recent weeks in Knoxville, especially involving the Austin-East community, and those that have taken place throughout the United States, demonstrate that violence in our society remains a serious, almost daily occurrence and that it claims victims in many different ways,” the bishop wrote.

Four teenagers in Knoxville had already been killed by gun violence since Jan. 27, according to the. Knoxville News Sentinel.

“As a nation, we must commit ourselves to work to turn away from violence and find real solutions that lead us to love, compassion, and decency,” he stated. 

“As Bishop of the Diocese of Knoxville, I pledge to do what I can to help. Prayers are important, but communities must come together to find positive solutions to this ongoing problem in our country.”

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigations is reviewing the incident and the circumstances that led to the shooting, the Knoxville Police Department said on Monday.

The department said that on Monday afternoon around 3:15 p.m., it received reports of a male armed with a gun at the school. Officers responded and found the suspect in a bathroom. After they ordered the suspect to come out, he fired gunshots, injuring one officer. An officer returned fire, and the suspect was pronounced dead at the scene.

This story was updated on April 13.

St Paul-Minneapolis archbishop prays for peace, caution after Daunte Wright shooting

A protester argues with a Minnesota State Patrol outside the Brooklyn Center Police Station after a police officer shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minn., April 12, 2021. Credit: Kerem Yucel/AFP via Getty Images.

St. Paul, Minn., Apr 12, 2021 / 17:09 pm (CNA).

On Monday, Archbishop Bernard Hebda of Saint Paul and Minneapolis prayed for all parties involved in the police shooting of Daunte Wright. 

“I have been praying for [Wright’s] eternal repose, for his family and for all those who loved him,” Archbishop Hebda said April 12. He added he was “also praying for the Brooklyn Center Police officer involved in the shooting, and for her family and friends. I suspect that they are grieving in a different way.”

At a traffic stop April 11 in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis-Saint Paul, police officers attempted to arrest Wright, a black man, for what they said was an outstanding arrest warrant. After Wright resisted arrest to escape in his car, one of the officers shot him. Wright drove several blocks before crashing. He died on the scene of the crash. 

Referencing body camera video footage, the chief of police said he believed the shooting was an accident, as the officer intended to tase Wright. The officer was placed on administrative leave. 

The shooting of Wright occurred during the nationally heated trial of Derek Chauvin, a Minnesota police officer who is accused of killing George Floyd. The coupling of events has sparked protests, rioting, and looting across Minneapolis. The National Guard was deployed and a curfew was imposed.

“While early indications point towards the shooting being accidental” the archbishop said, “I encourage allowing investigators from the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension to complete a thorough investigation before coming to any personal judgments as to what occurred.”

Hebda called on the community to “pause and pray, particularly during this time of already heightened tension due to the Chauvin trial.” The archbishop also mentioned that he was “encouraged and inspired by the pleas for peace that have continued to come from the family of George Floyd.”

He concluded by asking that “all of us take time daily to pray for justice, but also for peace in our families and in our communities.”

Catholic aid group praises Biden’s proposed boost to foreign assistance

People wait outside a distribution point to receive aid rations in Oromia Region, Ethiopia, in February 2018 / Will Baxter/Catholic Relief Services

Washington D.C., Apr 12, 2021 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

A Catholic aid agency is praising President Biden’s 2022 fiscal year budget request for its focus on fighting poverty.

“The administration’s proposal to increase poverty-focused international assistance in its FY22 budget request demonstrates a steadfast commitment to American leadership abroad,” stated Bill O’Keefe, executive vice president for mission, mobilization and advocacy at Catholic Relief Services (CRS), on Friday.

The White House released its discretionary funding request for fiscal year 2022 on Friday. The request is a summary of the administration’s full budget, which will be released later.

Included in the request is $1 billion in U.S. foreign assistance for fighting infectious diseases around the globe, as well as $2.5 billion for international climate programs.

O’Keefe said that the proposed funding “will be vital” to fighting global poverty, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 has plunged tens of millions of families further into poverty, threatening their ability to put food on the table,” O’Keefe stated. “The U.S. is a blessed nation. It’s our moral responsibility as Americans to protect the life and dignity of those most in need.”

Increased foreign assistance will help the United States counter the threats of climate change and future pandemics, O'Keefe said, adding that it will also boost the U.S. response to "the complex challenges plaguing Central America.”

In 2019, CRS criticized President Trump’s proposal to cut foreign aid by nearly 25%.

The 2022 federal budget process is also expected to feature a debate over taxpayer funding of abortions.

Biden’s budget request did not specifically mention abortion funding, but pro-life groups are warning that a proposed $340 million increase for the Title X family planning program would fund pro-abortion groups.

While the Trump administration set up safeguards against Title X funding of abortion clinics – forbidding grantees from referring for abortions or being co-located with abortion clinics – the Biden administration is currently in the process of rolling back those requirements.

In addition, Biden’s budget request includes funding of the UN’s population fund (UNFPA). The Trump administration stopped funding the UNFPA in 2017 over its partnership with the Chinese government, claiming that the organization was complicit in China’s practice of forced abortions.

“Biden’s funding proposal further raises the stakes for inclusion of the Hyde family of longstanding pro-life policies,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List, on Friday. 

The Hyde Amendment – federal policy that bars funding of elective abortions in appropriations – has been enacted in law since 1976 as a rider to budget bills. However, Biden in 2019 reversed his long-standing support for the policy, and has opposed it as president. Democratic leadership in Congress have also called for the repeal of the policy.

“Under his radical Cabinet appointees, funding increases will translate to a payday for abortion giants like Planned Parenthood and Marie Stopes International, and greater complicity in human rights abuses around the world,” Dannenfelser stated. “We strongly urge our congressional allies to reject any budget that omits these vital protections.”

Democratic leaders have also called for the repeal of other pro-life funding policies such as the Helms Amendment, which forbids federal funding of international abortions. President Biden has already allowed for federal funding of pro-abortion foreign NGOs by repealing the Mexico City Policy.




Indiana bill would make religious services 'essential' during declared emergencies

The Indiana capitol. / Aeypix/Shutterstock

Indianapolis, Ind., Apr 12, 2021 / 15:01 pm (CNA).

The Indiana legislature on Thursday sent a bill to the governor which would classify religious services as essential during declared disaster emergencies, and would prevent the government imposing any restrictions on religious services that are more restrictive than those imposed on other essential organizations.

“Religious organizations provide essential services that are necessary for the health and welfare of the public during a disaster emergency,” the bill reads.

The bill does not exclude the government from imposing health, safety, or occupancy requirements on religious services, provided that they are equally applied to other operations deemed essential.

In addition, these restrictions may not, the bill says, impose a “substantial burden” on a religious service without a compelling governmental interest, and the restrictions must be the “least restrictive means” of furthering that compelling governmental interest.

Churches throughout the U.S. filed several lawsuits in the past year against local authorities, complaining of unequal coronavirus restrictions on religious services in comparison to comparable secular activities.

New York state in October had limited indoor religious gatherings in certain areas to only 10 people, with other areas limited to 25 people, due to the spread of the virus in those areas, while allowing other venues to open and operate under far fewer restrictions.

The Supreme Court in November issued a ruling enjoining Governor Andrew Cuomo from enforcing those limits following an appeal from the Diocese of Brooklyn.

In California, Harvest Rock Church filed a lawsuit against the state over its restrictions on worship, which effectively prohibited all indoor services, while allowing stores and restaurants to open with capacity limits.

A district court would not grant its request to halt the restrictions. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals also ruled against the church in October, refusing to overrule the district court’s decision and saying that while the state provided expert testimony to support its public health restrictions, the church had not provided its own health expert to make its case.

In a November 2020 appeal to the Supreme Court, Harvest Rock alleged that Governor Gavin Newsom had applied a double-standard during the nine months of the pandemic, curbing religious services while allowing comparable non-religious gatherings and mass protests to continue “without numerical restriction.”

The Supreme Court accepted the church’s appeal, vacated the Ninth Circuit decision, and sent the case back to the circuit court for consideration in light of the Supreme Court’s ruling in the Brooklyn diocese case.

However, the appeals court ruled in January 2021 for a second time against Harvest Rock, deciding that a total ban on indoor worship services in most areas of the state is justified to block the spread of coronavirus, but also that the state could not enforce numerical restrictions on worshippers in certain areas.

A February unsigned order from the Supreme Court said that the total ban on indoor worship is unconstitutional. At most, the state may limit indoor capacity to 25% of normal.

High Plains Harvest Church in Eaton, Colorado, appealed to the Supreme Court in December against the state’s COVID restrictions, charging that the state’s restrictions were “transparently selective and discriminatory” in subjecting churches to limits that some retail stores were exempted from.

In response, the state reclassified houses of worship as “critical businesses,” exempting them from capacity limits to which other non-essential businesses were subject.

California’s limit on home religious gatherings too strict, US Supreme Court says

U.S. Supreme Court building / Steven Frame/Shutterstock

Washington D.C., Apr 12, 2021 / 13:49 pm (CNA).

California’s coronavirus restrictions on home-based religious gatherings like Bible studies, worship and prayer meetings were more strict than the constitution allows, the U.S. Supreme Court said in a 5-4 court order late Friday.

Citing an appeals court decision in a different case, the unsigned majority’s court order said the state cannot “assume the worst when people go to worship but assume the best when people go to work.”

California had said its restrictions on social gatherings was “entirely neutral.” Its current coronavirus mitigation rules have limited indoor social gatherings to no more than three households, and attendees must wear masks and keep physical distance from each other.

These rules were challenged by Rev. Jeremy Wong and Karen Busch,  two residents of Santa Clara County, in the San Francisco Bay Area. They wanted to host small, in-person Bible studies in their homes, the Associated Press said. In the case known as Tandon v. Newsom, they objected that the limits interfered with their free exercise of religion.

“There is zero evidence that an indoor Bible study is riskier than a trip to the movies, dinner in a restaurant, a workout in a gym or a gathering with dozens of friends at a winery, brewery, distillery or bowling alley,” the plaintiffs said in their appeal to the Supreme Court, the New York Times reports.

The Supreme Court’s order critiqued the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, saying “instead of requiring the State to explain why it could not safely permit at-home worshipers to gather in larger numbers while using precautions used in secular activities, the Ninth Circuit erroneously declared that such measures might not ‘translate readily’ to the home.”

The order faulted the appellate court’s series of decisions on California rules.

“This is the fifth time the Court has summarily rejected the Ninth Circuit’s analysis of California’s COVID restrictions on religious exercise,” said the order. “It is unsurprising that such litigants are entitled to relief.”

“California’s Blueprint System contains myriad exceptions and accommodations for comparable activities, thus requiring the application of strict scrutiny,” the Supreme Court said. Under this standard, the state must pursue its interest through laws that are “narrowly tailored.”

David Cortman, senior counsel and vice president of U.S. litigation with the Alliance Defending Freedom legal group, welcomed the decision.

“With this fifth rejection of California’s COVID-19 restrictions on religious exercise, the Supreme Court has made abundantly clear that the government has a duty to respect the First Amendment in this context and many others,” Cortman said April 10.

“As the court explained, the government can’t single out religious activities for harsher treatment than non-religious ones,” he added. “The court also rejected the idea that such unfair treatment is okay, in this instance, because people gathering for religious purposes in homes somehow can’t be trusted to take the same precautions as people do in other places.”

The court order did draw disagreement from Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. and a written dissent from Justice Elena Kagan, joined by Justices Stephen Breyer and Sonia Sotomayor.

“California limits religious gatherings in homes to three households. If the State also limits all secular gatherings in homes to three households, it has complied with the First Amendment,” Kagan said. “And the State does exactly that: It has adopted a blanket restriction on at-home gatherings of all kinds, religious and secular alike.”

Kagan objected to claims that in-home religious gatherings should be treated “the same as hardware stores and hair salons.” She said “the law does not require that the State equally treat apples and watermelons.”

The court majority however, said comparable secular activities treated “more favorably than at-home religious exercise” under California rules included private suites at sporting events and concerts as well as indoor restaurant dining, where more than three households were allowed to gather.

“Where the government permits other activities to proceed with precautions, it must show that the religious exercise at issue is more dangerous than those activities even when the same precautions are applied,” the Supreme Court said.

Public health officials have said anti-coronavirus health precautions for gatherings include limited attendance capacity, physical distance between households, the use of face coverings or masks, and good hand hygiene. Good ventilation for indoor gatherings has also been stressed.


Missing El Paso priest found safe

CNA Staff, Apr 12, 2021 / 11:11 am (CNA).

A Catholic priest of the diocese of El Paso who went missing last week has been found safe. 

The diocese reported Father Antonio Martinez Ceballos, assistant pastor of Corpus Christi Parish in El Paso’s Lower Valley, missing to the police on April 8. 

Martinez, who is originally from Colombia, was last seen the evening of April 6 at his parish. 

Early April 9, the diocese reported that thanks to efforts by the police and the community, Father Martinez had been found safe. 

The diocese told local news that they would provide no further comment about his disappearance or the circumstances surrounding how he was found. 

The police department's missing flyer stated that Martinez was “possibly wanting to head to Colombia.”

Colorado bishops to restore Sunday Mass obligation on Pentecost

Elena Dijour/Shutterstock.

CNA Staff, Apr 11, 2021 / 16:50 pm (CNA).

The Sunday Mass obligation will be restored for Catholics in the state of Colorado next month, unless sickness or another grave reason prevents them from being able to attend Mass.  

A joint statement from the bishops of Denver, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo on April 6 announced that the Sunday and Holy Day Mass obligation will be restored on Pentecost, May 23. 

The bishops urged all Catholics without significant health risks or other serious obstacles to attend Mass every Sunday and to use this Easter season to reflect on the importance of Mass and the Church’s teaching surrounding it.

“As Catholics, we are invited by God to gather together in community, and participate fully in the Sunday Eucharist, which is the ‘source and summit of the Christian life,’” the bishops said.

“The Sunday and Holy Day obligation is not something God asks of us out of his own necessity or need to be worshipped, but rather a gift to the faithful for our own spiritual nourishment, happiness, and eternal salvation.”

As the coronavirus pandemic swept through the United States last spring, every Catholic diocese in the country suspended the public celebration of Masses. In many areas, public Masses were restored several months later, with restrictions in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. 

Dioceses have gradually begun reinstating the Sunday Mass obligation in recent months.

“While entering into any public space over the last year has included some risk, the safety and health protocols implemented at our parishes have proven to be extremely effective, and we are unaware of any issues of community spread happening at a public Mass,” the Colorado bishops said in their statement.

“Prudent health precautions will still be taken by every parish, but as the worst of the pandemic seems to be behind us, and access to COVID-19 vaccines for those who desire to receive it has increased, the time has come that the general dispensation is no longer necessary.”

The bishops noted that the Church has always permitted those with “serious reasons” to be exempted from the obligation to attend Mass. Such serious reasons, they said, could include sickness, exposure to the coronavirus, or being or caring for someone who is high risk and unable to enter public areas. In addition, they clarified, the obligation does not apply for someone who is unable to attend Mass due to ongoing capacity limits on religious services during the pandemic.

“Anyone who isn’t able to go to Mass should continue to keep the Sabbath holy with intentional time in prayer including engagement in the readings for the day, which may be enhanced through watching a pre-recorded or livestreamed Mass and making a spiritual communion,” they said. 

The bishops encouraged Catholics to pray for an end to the pandemic, for those who have suffered a loss, and for a rejuvenated faith, especially for those who have drifted from their faith during this time. 

“Let us ask the Lord for a renewed spirit in every one of us: that we can emerge from this pandemic stronger and with an increased commitment to sharing the Good News and building up Christ’s Church,” they said.

Feds allege ex-executive embezzled children’s services non-profit for personal spending

Andy via Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Lansing, Mich., Apr 10, 2021 / 16:00 pm (CNA).

Alleging embezzlement of over $200,000, federal prosecutors have filed charges against John Lynch, a former executive of the historically Catholic Michigan non-profit Holy Cross Children’s Services .


“In 2017, Holy Cross Services’ management discovered  financial irregularities indicative of possible embezzlement activity,” the nonprofit organization said in a statement. The organization initiated an audit performed by an outside accounting firm and notified its insurance carriers, and reported the matter to law enforcement, including the FBI.


The investigation was prompted when an employee noticed apparent personal expenses in Lynch’s use of the Holy Cross credit card. Lynch was fired in April 2017.


Holy Cross reached an “amicable resolution” with its insurance carriers and has “worked closely with the FBI” regarding the case.


“We want to assure all our donors, stakeholders, clients and partners, that Holy Cross fully cooperated throughout the investigation, and that the organization has implemented best practices and safeguards to prevent this from ever happening again,” the nonprofit said.  


The charity’s former CEO and chief financial officer, 56-year-old Lynch, is accused of stealing more than $240,000 from the charity and allegedly spent it on shopping sprees, vacations, expensive dinners, personal credit card and mortgage debt, and relatives who kicked back money to him, The Detroit News reports.


If convicted, he faces federal charges of mail and wire fraud, crimes both punishable by up to 20 years in prison. He is also accused of stealing money from an organization that receives federal funds, a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.


Holy Cross Children's Services is based in Clinton, Mich. It was founded as Boysville of Michigan in 1948 by the Catholic bishops of Michigan. In 2019, Boysville of Michigan became Holy Cross Services and is not under the auspices of any diocese, the organization said.


Holy Cross Children's Services serves abused and neglected children, youth and young adults with substance abuse and mental health problems, as well as homeless children and adults. Its statewide work includes financial support, welfare and behavioral health care for children and their families in need. It also operates Samaritan Center, which provides community resources and health care on Detroit’s East Side.


Lynch had a salary of $200,000 per year.


Prosecutors accused him of using stolen money to pay for car repairs, a new roof, and mortgage and credit card payments. He used the charity’s money to pay his own consultant company and to pay for security services, secretly controlled through a relative.


Over $39,000 in 14 checks were paid to a relative of Lynch in 2014-2015. Prosecutors allege he described the money as “profit sharing” and suggested to the relative they split the cash. The relative transferred some $21,000 of that money back to Lynch.


He allegedly spent his employer’s credit card on about $36,500 in unauthorized charges.


Prosecutors allege he tried to cover up the embezzlement by submitting bogus invoices. He allegedly controlled the companies he paid.


Lynch was released on a $10,000 unsecured bond.


He had begun working at the charity in March 2012. Later that year he filed for bankruptcy in U.S. District Court, claiming he was over $10 million in debt. This included credit card debt, student loan debt for his children, business loans, and a debt related to a bankruptcy proceeding for a collision company, the Detroit Free Press reports. At the time, he claimed $400,000 in assets and $18,000 in monthly expenses, with an income of only $16,500.


Holly Fournier, associate communications director for the Detroit archdiocese, told CNA that although all Michigan dioceses once had a role in supporting the nonprofit, it has been 20 to 25 years since the Detroit archdiocese had any direct involvement.  


“In more recent years, the Archbishop has had the ability to appoint someone to the 20- to 30-person Board of Directors,” Fournier said. “That‘s not uncommon among independent organizations that choose to operate within the principles of Catholic teaching — like private schools run by religious orders, for example. We don’t currently have anyone active on the board, as the last individual to be appointed has been serving in unrelated ministry out of the country for several years.”