A dispute has erupted between wealthy American donors and a Catholic charity over the Vatican’s request for a multimillion-dollar grant, causing unusual friction between church leadership and laity and prompting calls for greater lay oversight of church finances.
The dispute centers on the Papal Foundation, a Bala Cynwyd-based foundation that supports charitable activities designated by the Holy See. Last summer, the Vatican asked it for $25 million to fund the Istituto Dermopatico dell’Immacolata (IDI), a Catholic dermatological hospital in Rome with a history of financial scandals, writes Francis Z. Rocco in The Wall Street Journal.
James Longon, chairman of the foundation’s audit committee, led the protests against the grant, which he described in a memo to fellow donors as a “disaster for the Papal Foundation. Not only is the decision process flawed, but the recipient has a dubious past.” He subsequently resigned from the board of trustees.
The chairman of the Papal Foundation, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, declined to comment through a spokesman. The Vatican and the IDI hospital didn’t respond to requests for comment. In a statement, the foundation’s vice president for advancement, James Coffey, declined to comment on individual grant requests.
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