The Priest That Stole

National Post article:

Strange title for a blog post, right? But think about it, how many people really associate priests with stealing? Maybe a few, but there are more people that don’t. It is not the first thought that pops in our mind. Yes, we hear stories about priests that are pedophiles, but stealing money? I can’t say that ever crossed my mind before.

Well, Father Joe LeClair, a “beloved priest” [1] from Ottawa, did just that. He stole more than “$130, 000 from Sunday collections and church accounts” [ibid.] and he pleaded guilty to on January 20 to “theft and fraud charges.” [ibid.] The article says that the fraud had been going on for five years before he was charged. Furthermore, “Ottawa Citizen first raised concerns about financial irregularities at the church in early 2011.” [ibid.]

Father LeClair was recently released from jail and his parishioners from his former church are welcoming him back. They believe that what happened helped the priest with his “addictions”.

It is quite surprising to hear something like this. When one really thinks about it, priests probably do have the ability to embezzle money from the church accounts. However, as a churchgoer myself, I have never thought this of my priest or doubted him. Yes, priests go through a lot and it isn’t the highest paying profession, but I always thought they became a priest for their love for God and to preach.

Reading an article like this though, it makes one weary. Priests are seen as holy and people that we can trust. But if articles like this pop up, it makes us wonder if priests can be trusted. That seed of doubt gets planted into people and they start becoming weary. Should that really be how we start perceiving our priests?

  • MHY #uwreligions #RELS349

[1] Hurely, Meghan. “Ottawa priest who stole more than $130,000 from church welcomed back after release from jail.” National Post News. (accessed November 28, 2014)


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