Bro. Michael Perry, elected Minister General of the Francisco Order on May 22, 2013, in front of a mosaic of St. Francis in Rome
Catholic World News reports, December 19, 2014, that Brother Michael Perry, the minister general (and therefore the worldwide leader) of the Franciscan order has revealed that the religious order is in “grave” financial difficulties, and that Italian civil officials have been asked to investigate irregularities in the conduct of the order’s financial affairs.
In a letter to all Franciscan friars, dated December 17, Perry discloses that the leadership of the order opened an investigation into the affairs of the general treasurer. That inquiry unearthed evidence of problems that led to the resignation of the treasurer and raised further questions about the propriety of financial activities—both by Franciscan friars and by outsiders handling the order’s legal affairs.
From Perry’s letter:
First, the General Curia finds itself in grave, and I underscore ‘grave’ financial difficulty, with a significant burden of debt. Second, the systems of financial oversight and control for the management of the patrimony of the Order were either too weak or were compromised, thus limiting their effectiveness to guarantee responsible, transparent management. We have initiated steps to address these concerns. Third, there appears to have taken place a number of questionable financial activities that were conducted by friars entrusted with the care of the patrimony of the Order without the full knowledge or consent of the former and current General Definitorium. Because of the scope and magnitude of these activities, they have placed the financial stability of the General Curia at grave risk.
Perry asks for understanding from the world’s Franciscan communities and also for contributions to help resolve the situation, “which involves also the repayment of significant debts.”
St. Francis must be weeping . . . .