At least once per day someone comes to my blog through a search for “Follieri.” Back in 2005, I posted a blog entry on the Follieri Group, a real estate firm whose goal was to buy up Church properties being sold in the current flurry of divestiture and who touted a nephew of Cardinal Angelo Sodano as a partner. I revisited the company earlier this year when the National Catholic Reporter did a story on them and their ambitions.
Now, the Wall Street Journal has joined in with yet another investigation. From what I see there, rather than having an unfair advantage and insider’s track due to their “high-level” connections in Rome, the principals in the company seem more interested in living the playboy lifestyle, while their attempted acquisitions have been rebuffed, apparently due to a lack of understanding of the market and some ham-handed attempts to ingratiate themselves with the US bishops.
The Follieri Group says its plan is to use a significant portion of its U.S. real-estate profits to fund an affiliated foundation, which will provide scholarships to Catholic-school students, improve health care for children in poor countries and offer free prescription-drug discount cards to uninsured and underinsured Americans. The company says it conducts business based on the principles and teachings of the Catholic Church.
It sounds good, but you often hear promises from companies looking to do business with Catholics that they will use their profits to fund this and that. I’d rather see them just offer a good deal and provide a good service.
I’m putting this in the “apparently harmless” file. Shouldn’t be too much to see here in the future.
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