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The Guardian reports on this classic what would Jesus do moment:

  • Father Amer Saka of Chaldean Catholic church allegedly told bishop
  • Police investigate as much as C$500,000 earmarked to help

Police in Canada have launched an investigation after a Catholic priest in southern Ontario claimed he had gambled away hundreds of thousands of dollars earmarked for refugees fleeing violence and persecution in Iraq.

Church officials went to police after Father Amer Saka, a priest at the St Joseph Chaldean Catholic church in London, Ontario, allegedly told his bishop in late February that as much as C$500,000 ($380,000) meant for refugees coming to Canada had disappeared.

“I said ‘How?’” Bishop Emanuel Shaleta told the Toronto Star. “He said ‘Gambling’.”

The priest was suspended immediately, said Shaleta. “We believe that Father Saka has a serious gambling problem and that these funds may have been used for that purpose.”

Police in London, a city of 300,000 people in south-western Ontario, confirmed that an investigation had been launched over the missing funds. No charges have been laid and the allegations have not been proven in court.

The Chaldean Catholic church represents Catholics from Iraq as well as parts of Syria, Turkey and Iran and is overseen by the Vatican.

Speaking to the Guardian, Shaleta stressed that the priest’s claims had yet to be confirmed by investigators. “Maybe this money is gambled, maybe it’s lost or it’s been given to someone. Even if he said it, you have to prove it.”

Shaleta said the money was not given to the church but to the priest by some members of the parish to help bring their relatives – many of whom are Iraqi refugees – to Canada, under a private sponsorship program in which citizens or groups commit to covering expenses for the newcomers and help them settle into their lives.

“This money was not donations, nor a fund collected for refugees,” said Shaleta. Through the sponsorship program, the parish has so far brought 11 refugees to Canada and another 45 refugees are believed to have been approved.


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Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...