ST Oct 5, 2007After the NKF scandal, I am suspicious of such arguments. The above article instantly reminded of past events such as this one:
No separate watchdog for religious charities
They'll come under office of Commissioner of Charities, but their 'special nature' will be taken into account
By Theresa Tan
SOME churches have urged the Charity Council to let them be governed separately from secular charities, but the council is standing firm.
It told The Straits Times there is 'no need' for a separate administrator to regulate religious charities.
Instead, churches and temples will still come under the Commissioner of Charities (COC) office, said the council, which advises the commissioner.
This is the strongest indication yet that all charities - secular and spiritual - will have to follow a new draft Code of Governance for charities to improve the way they are run.
While the code is not mandatory, charities which do not comply with its guidelines will have to explain why.
It is believed a number of churches expressed concern to the council when asked for feedback on the code. Some points raised were that:
* As spiritual leaders of the church, clergy cannot be excluded from the governing board. The code demands separation of the governing board and management staff, to ensure proper oversight of the charity.
* Rules on fund raising should not apply to churches. This is because church members give voluntarily as part of their religious beliefs and churches say they do not solicit from the public.
Florida priests 'embezzled $8.6m from parishioners'Suppose Father John Skehan now said: "As a spiritual leader of the church, I cannot be excluded from the governing board. I must be on the governing board and also part of management staff. Screw any potential conflict of interest." How would you feel?
By Andrew Gumbel
Two Catholic priests in Florida stand accused of embezzling $8.6m (pounds 4.6m) from their parishioners over a 42-year period and spending the money on holiday houses, luxury travel, gambling in Las Vegas casinos and secret girlfriends.
The scandal, at St Vincent Ferrer Church, in Delray Beach, north of Miami, cast yet another embarrassing spotlight on a Catholic diocese that recently lost two bishops to child sex abuse scandals.
According to police who investigated the suspect finances at St Vincent Ferrer for more than a year, Fathers John Skehan and Francis Guinan acted as "professional money launderers" who took money from the collection plate and set up a network of slush-fund bank accounts to which only they had access.
Fr Skehan, 79, was a highly regarded priest whose congregation included many prominent politicians and public figures in southern Palm Beach County. According to the police, however, he also used laundered money to buy himself a condominium near Delray Beach, a cottage on the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland and a pub in Kilkenny, where he was born. The police complaint says Fr Skehan spent $134,075 in church money on a woman described as his girlfriend, another $11,688 on family members, and more than a $250,000 on himself - for car payments, dental work, property taxes and housing fees, and credit card payments.
Fr Guinan, 63, a longtime friend of Fr Skehan who took over the parish in 2003, owns a string of properties in the area. The complaint said he was a gambler who spent lavishly in casinos in Las Vegas and the Bahamas. He was also alleged to have made cash payments to his secret lover, who once worked as a bookkeeper at his old parish of St Patrick's in Palm Beach Gardens, and to have contributed more than $7,000 to the cost of the woman's son's education. He, too, racked up impressive dental bills. The complaint said he spent $15,000 of illicit funds on his teeth.
Suppose Father Guinan now said, "Rules on fund raising should not apply to me. This is because church members give voluntarily to my church as part of their religious beliefs and I do not solicit from the public". What would you say?
Learn, people. Learn.