Brazilian police have arrested the Catholic Bishop of Formosa, Jose Ribeiro, on allegations that he stole about 2 million reais ($608,000) from church coffers, along with other Catholic clergymen.
On Monday, a police raid on one of the priests’ home saw officers prise open a false wall in to find some £19,200 in plastic bags hidden in a secret storage space.
The money was allegedly stolen over a three-year period from tithes, donations, fundraising events and from fees collected for ceremonies such as baptisms and weddings.
According to state prosecutors, the bishop, who was appointed to the Formosa diocese in 2014, is suspected of leading a sophisticated scheme that diverted funds from church coffers.
Taps placed on the phones of the men uncovered the alleged web of deceit with conversations apparently revealing how the group laundered the money by purchasing a cattle ranch, a lottery agency, phones, luxury cars, designer watches and gold chains. Large amounts of cash in foreign currencies were also found.
Investigation into the Formosa Diocese accounts began last year after members of the congregation alleged irregularities and misuse of assets by the Catholic Church.
There is currently a debate in Nigeria on whether Christians are who are no more under the laws of Moses are to pay tithe according to the laws or not.
Senior Pastor of Daystar Church and motivational speaker, Pastor Sam Adeyemi, gave his views on payment of tithe by Christians.
According to the senior pastor, it is not compulsory to pay tithe.
The pastor said this while addressing his congregation yesterday, where he also pointed out that tithe was paid in the old Testament as a law with curses attached to failure to pay.
He said Christian should not be pressured or forced to pay tithe, adding that not paying tithe does not attract a curse for a Christian anymore.
He said, “Since we are under a new covenant, giving is a choice. Everyone should decide the percentage they want to pay with the knowledge that you will be blessed based on how you give.”