When Priests Pilfer

Still recovering from the sexual abuse scandal of five years ago, the Catholic Church is facing another crisis: clergy who steal money from their parishes

Sam Weber for TIME

Illustration by Sam Weber

Until two years ago, the Roman Catholic diocese of Palm Beach, Fla., ran audits of its parishes only when they changed pastors. It was a risky, even foolhardy policy when you consider that a parish like St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church, in Delray Beach, hadn't changed pastors in 40 years. In September 2003, upon the retirement of St. Vincent's pastor, the Rev. John Skehan, diocesan accountant Denis Hamel dutifully showed up to inspect the books and the procedures for counting Sunday collections. The new pastor, the Rev. Francis Guinan--a close buddy of Skehan's--told him to beat it. But the new bishop, Gerald...

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