A reader sends a link to the web site of a company called The Follieri Group. According to the site, the company was formed in 2003 for the express purpose of buying church properties, renovating them, and re-selling them. That wouldn’t be especially noteworthy, except for one thing.

The site says: “The members of The Follieri Groupís management team are Pasquale Follieri, Raffaello Follieri, Richard Ortoli, Vincent Ponte and Andrea Sodano.” Is that last name familiar? The page goes on: “Because of the Follieri familyís deep commitment to the Catholic Church and its long standing relationships with senior members of the Vatican hierarchy, The Follieri Group understands very well the imperatives of the Church and is sensitive to its needs.” 

“Long standing relationships.” Longstanding is right: Andrea Sodano is a relative of Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, the number 2 man in the Church’s hierarchy in matters of governance. Unless his name was Wojtyla, you couldn’t get a better connection.

So here we have a company seeking relationships with American dioceses to buy up and dispose of closing properties. Meanwhile, a relative of one of the principals is the man ultimately in charge of the appeals process for parishes being closed.

Hey, I’m the strongest proponent of the idea that the Archdiocese of Boston needs to close parishes, but the process should be fair and everyone should be on a level playing field. This has at least the appearance of improriety. If the Boston archdiocese is smart, they’ll keep the Follieri Group at arm’s length, and other dioceses should too. Otherwise, they’re going to get killed in the media and in court.