Nothing illegal here. Move along, move along…

From NBC 4 in Washington, D.C.: Lawyer For Jailed Priest Says Case Is A Church Matter:

The attorney for a Virginia Catholic priest suspected of stealing from two churches wants the theft charges dropped because he claims the matter is an internal church affair outside the legal system’s jurisdiction.

The Rev. Rodney L. Rodis faces 13 charges of stealing as much as $1 million while he was a pastor of Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Bumpass and St. Jude Catholic Church in Mineral.

Rodis’ lawyer, John R. Maus, filed a motion in Louisa Circuit Court last week to dismiss the charges, arguing that the U.S. Constitution bans the government from interfering in church matters.

According to the motion filed, church law grants a pastor a certain authority to handle money for the two churches.

“Whether his use of such funds exceeded his authority as administrator of these parishes will necessarily involve this court in the interpretation and application of (church) law,” the motion states.

R. Don Short, Louisa County’s commonwealth’s attorney, disagrees. “I don’t think the fact that you’re a priest immunizes you from criminal prosecution,” he said.

[…]

Rodis is accused of stealing donations from 1995 until his retirement last year.

Parishioners have said that Rodis handled much of the donation money personally. Investigators claim he deposited some donation funds into a Fredericksburg bank account set up in the churches’ name without the congregations’ knowledge and used the money for other purposes.

[…]

William Etherington, a lawyer who represents the Richmond Diocese, thinks Maus’ argument is off base.

“I don’t think the First Amendment says that,” Etherington said.

He likened the argument to someone trying to claim that child-molestation cases should be handled as an internal church matter. “That’s crazy,” he said.

At least the church is smart enough to tell the lawyer to buzz off. The reverend (shouldn’t it be Father?) must really be guilty if this is the best a lawyer can come up with. What next, “the devil made me do it!”?

2 Comments

  1. Tom James says:

    Is this the same law that allows the state to build a driveway for a private non-profit business to the tune of 17 million state taxpayer dollars?

    But the state doesn’t have the funds for Health and Human Service needs.

    And is this the same law that allows legislators to make donations to their pet causes with taxpayer funds to the tune of 36 million in direct contributions not to mention the money and contracts funneled in more discrete and insidious ways through state agencies?

  2. Phil Scoggin says:

    After hurricane Katrina “Father” Rodney Rodis made an impassioned plea from the pulpit for donations to help the “Katrina Victims”. I was so moved that I grabbed my wife’s checkbook and dashed off a $500 check for “Katrin Relief”. I noticed others taking similar actions. The collection was taken by the ushers. Over a year later we learned that the checks did not go to the Katrina victims but instead were deposited by Rodis in a secret account in the Heartland bank in Fredericksburg. The only signatory to that account was Rodis. The money has since disapeared from the Heartland bank in checks and with-drawalls written by Rodis.

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