A Catholic priest gambled away the money collected to help refugees coming to Canada and while doing so he annihilated the eighth commandment, “Thou shalt not steal.” This wasn’t a few lottery scratch tickets-type of gambling, there’s over $500,000 missing that was collected to help the immigrants escaping their horrific situations in Iraq.
Father Amer Saka, who is a priest at St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church in London, Ontario, called his superior to tell him he lost the $500,000 to a “vice.” After Bishop Emanuel Shaleta got that phone call from the priest with the gambling problem, he called the police, reports MSN Money News on March 29.
While police have launched an investigation into this theft, no charges have been brought against the priest as of yet, reports News Max today. The bishop fielded questions from the media and said:
“We believe that Father Saka has a serious gambling problem and that these funds may have been used for that purpose,” he said. “Since there is an investigation going on, we cannot confirm what he’s saying.”
Father Saka was relieved of his priestly duties temporarily by the bishop, who drove to London the day following the phone call and escorted Saka to a voluntary treatment facility at the Southdown Institute. This is a non-profit facility just north of Toronto for priests with a problem. He will stay several days at this facility that is for priests battling their own demons that range from addiction to depression to sexually abusive behavior.
MSN reports that “The Chaldean Catholic Church is based in Baghdad and represents Catholics from Iraq and neighboring countries, but ultimately falls under the watch of the Holy See in the Vatican.” They sponsor Iraq refugees and as of right now, with the funds depleted due to the priest’s gambling problem, they are in a pickle.
Saka has filed 20 refugee applications with the Monsignor Murray Kroetsch, who is chancellor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hamilton and who runs the refugee sponsorship program. About 10 of these refugees have arrived in southern Ontario and the till is empty for money to set them up in homes. This has left the Hamilton diocese holding the empty bag so to speak and it had no choice but to take over the responsibility of supporting the new immigrant citizens of Canada.
Breaking the eighth commandment has snowballed and its effects are felt far and wide within this church, which is now left with a zero balance for money and many people to care for. It appears that Father Saka wasn’t very good at his new hobby of gambling, evident by the astronomical amount of money he lost.