As more and more dioceses around the country declare bankruptcy in the face of a flood of sex abuse lawsuits, bankruptcy is proving to be a double-edged sword for the bishops.
First, and very important to understand, their declaring bankruptcy has nothing to do with not having the money (or resources) — they do. It has everything to do with preventing victims from gaining access to it.
And even before bankruptcy, dioceses, like the one here in Detroit under the leadership of the duplicitous Abp. Allen Vigneron, take proactive steps to shield their assets. A couple of years ago, Vigneron and his complicit legal team from Bodman schemed up a crafty plan.
They took all of the diocese's assets and shifted them into a brand new company called Mooney Real Estate Holdings, which officially has nothing to do with the archdiocese. The only member of the corporation is Abp. Allen Vigneron.
So, officially, all of the assets of the archdiocese no longer belong to the archdiocese, and, therefore, the archdiocese can't be sued for them. We'll see if that legal maneuver holds up in court when the lawsuits are revealed here in Michigan (expected later this year).
Remember that the state attorney general's office raided the Detroit chancery a while back and has been sifting through boxes of confiscated files since then. But the move in Detroit by Vigneron points to the larger issue that bishops are now having to face the music for their immoral, sinful and (perhaps) criminal actions of covering up sex abuse for decades, burying the cases in archives and hoping they just get forgotten about.
Other dioceses, like Santa Rosa, California, as well as New Orleans, Louisiana, have recently filed for bankruptcy. While that does limit the amount of payout to victims, it also exposes those records to scrutiny by a public court.
In the case of New Orleans, that exposure resulted in revelations that the archbishop himself, Gregory Aymond, was accused by a former seminarian of sexual abuse when he reported harassment by gay seminarians. No wonder bishops don't want these files gone through.
But in the case of Bp. Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa (which includes Napa Valley) and his close association with Tim Busch and his annual Napa Conference (which Vasa attends religiously each year), a history of revelations of untoward activities regarding priests begins to be revealed.
As a quick aside that helps contextualize all this, Vasa's attendance at Tim Busch's annual Napa Conference is facing increased scrutiny since Church Militant revealed that Tim Busch hosts gay weddings and receptions at his lavish properties, something Vasa has never commented on, even after it became public.
Likewise, Tim Busch, owner of the Meritage Resort properties, has never issued a response to the revelations. This is made even more poignant by the fact that his annual conferences are all about "Catholic identity and fighting the culture wars." He rents out his properties to the very ideologues he rails against each summer, all while collecting millions of dollars of income.
So Vasa's silence on all that is even more curious, considering he is viewed as a "good bishop." But, perhaps, this may be a case of keeping each other's dirty secrets. Last week's bankruptcy filing by Vasa opened up old wounds for the diocese of Santa Rosa, involving various priests stealing money from parishes and wealthy donors and Vasa's potential cover-up of it.
For example, Church Militant has discovered a 501(c)(3) nonprofit attached to a Santa Rosa priest from India. Sources in Africa and India tell Church Militant that priests from foreign countries use this as a means of stealing and funneling money. Local reports reveal this may be the case with this particular Indian priest in Santa Rosa — doing this with Vasa's knowledge. This has been going on for a number of years.
The non-profit is called Joy Bharath, and federal records reveal it traces back to Fr. Balaswamy Govindu, one of Vasa's priests. Why is a foreign priest who operates under a U.S. bishop running a tax-exempt nonprofit? Who is he soliciting for funds? Why is Vasa silent on this? Is he reviewing his priest's financial affairs? What exactly is going on in this diocese?
But this isn't all that's being revealed in this bankruptcy. A story exploded in 2019 about a priest by the name of Fr. Oscar Diaz, who had embezzled close to $100 thousand from his parish, according to Vasa and his diocesan investigators.
The former pastor, however, says the real figure is substantially more — closer to half a million. In fact, the diocese of Santa Rosa has a decades-long history of theft (of huge sums of money) by a homosexual clergy, something critics say Vasa has spent more time covering up than cleaning up.
Fr. Diaz was brought into the diocese by then-Bp. Zeimann, a homosexual thief who blackmailed one of his priests into sex, once the priest was discovered to have been stealing from parishes. Diaz had actually been promoted to vicar for Hispanics and remained in that position under Vasa until a much-publicized car crash, in which he incurred significant injuries when racing toward San Francisco. When police arrived at the scene, they found tens of thousands of dollars in cash blowing around in the vehicle.
Sources inside the diocese tell Church Militant that this news prompted Vasa and his vicar-general to go to Diaz's rectory, where they entered through an unlocked door. There, according to sources, they found suitcases jammed with cash and Sunday parish collection bags from various parishes — also crammed with cash. Our sources say no one knows what happened to all that cash. It was not returned to the parishes.
However, parishes were reimbursed through a mysterious insurance company controlled by the bishops. Vasa is on the board of the insurance outfit. When law enforcement began to investigate and ask questions, Vasa sent Diaz back to Mexico. Additionally, a separate insurance payment was made to Diaz's parishes for close to half a million dollars, which seems to support the reasoning that the priest stole much closer to that sum than just a hundred thousand.
But some other information has emerged as a result of all these bankruptcy filings, and it has to do with an enormous pile of cash the U.S. bishops are sitting on through this self-insurance business — the same business that reportedly made the half-million-dollar reimbursement to Diaz's parish.
It's called Catholic Mutual, although some regions give it a slightly different name. But it is a completely nontransparent company that handles hundreds of millions — likely billions — of dollars for the bishops. Almost no Catholic has the slightest idea this giant fund exists. More on all that on tomorrow's Vortex.