Vatican Investigates $17 Million Missionary Fund Transfer to Investment Fund Run by Priest
The Vatican is investigating how $17 million meant for missionary work was transferred into an investment fund run by a priest.
The fund was created by the former national director of the U.S. Vatican's missionary fundraising organization, who transferred the money in 2021 before ending his tenure.
The money has been lost, and the intended recipients of the funds, foreign nuns studying in Rome, are now housed in a different convent.
The Vatican is replacing the staff and board of the U.S. organization and overhauling its bylaws due to the scandal.
The priest who created the fund has defended the transfers as legal and in the best interest of the church.
The Holy See has lost a quarter of its endowment due to the transfers, which have also diverted money from Vatican-approved charities.
The Transferred Property Management Services (TPMS) US board approved the transfer of funds to Missio Corp., a nonprofit organization founded by TPMS US board member Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB, for the purpose of providing low-interest loans to church-run enterprises in Africa.
Fr. Ruff served as the President of Missio Corp.
and the Executive Director of TPMS US concurrently.
The article raises questions about the legality of the transfer and the alignment of the mission of Missio Corp.
with TPMS US's mission and donor intent.
The article also notes concerns about the interlocking relationship between TPMS US and Missio Corp., which requires extra scrutiny by auditors and management.
The Pope's ambassador to the United States, along with other senior US cardinals and archbishops, including Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, are working on a new board to evaluate the governance of TPMS (The Pontifical Mission Societies), which is responsible for supporting the education of religious sisters.
TPMS-US has written off a $10.2 million investment in MISIF after the investment's performance did not meet expectations.
However, the head of the new board, Cardinal O'Malley, has defended the decision, saying that the organization's mission to support religious sisters is still intact.
The board is also working on new ecclesiastical statutes and voting on civil corporation bylaws.
The fate of a Rome residence for nuns, which was purchased with money from TPMS-US' education fund for religious sisters, is currently in limbo due to Italian bureaucracy and pandemic-related construction delays.
The Vatican has found other funding for the Rome residence, but the building remains empty and chained up.