He can’t remember if he stole the money

He can’t remember if he stole the money

The people protesting at a suppressed parish in East Boston are claiming that hundreds of thousands of dollars are missing from the parish’s accounts.

First, let’s review the situation at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel. In December, they were on Italian TV claiming anti-Italian discrimination for the closing of their church. In January, their group split over an invitation to schismatic nuns to come and set up shop in their parish. Before all that they had all resigned themselves to the closing, then backed out when a statue of the Virgin Mary toppled during the final Mass, which they took to be a sign of her disfavor with the closing.

With all that in mind, you’d have to excuse me for being a little skeptical of wild claims of financial mismanagement. Except for one thing: The former pastor’s response.

[Fr. Francis de Sales] Paolo, now pastor of St. Margaret’s Church in Buzzard’s Bay, could not account for the money. “As far as I know, I didn’t steal any money. I can’t remember,” the frail 72-year-old pastor said. “Those people, they are mad the church closed,” he said of the committee. “They are mad at everybody.”

He can’t remember whether he stole $200,000?

I forget where I put my car keys all the time. Just the other day I couldn’t remember where my sunglasses were until I remembered they were in my coat pocket. Which I was wearing at the time. But I think I would be able to remember whether I had stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you didn’t steal the money, you just answer, No, I didn’t steal it. Maybe Fr. Paolo was having a bad day. Maybe he’d been ambushed by a reporter and was flustered. Still, to say, “As far as I know,” and “I don’t remember” is pretty darn incriminating.

I don’t think it changes one thing about the rationale for closing the parish, but it makes the task that much harder. It’s not just the archdiocese and the bureaucracy that can make a mess of the closings, nor just recusant parishioners, it seems. This pastor seems to have made a fine mess all on his own.

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