The holiday season is fast approaching and with that comes many traditions. In your family it may be the fruitcake that Aunt Sally insists on baking. Among the Philadelphia clergy it may be the widespread theft of the annual All Souls collection.
Msgr. Joseph McLoone was arrested and charged with stealing $98,000 from St Joseph’s Parish in Downingtown. Approximately $40,000 of that total was allegedly stolen from All Souls collections from 2011 to 2017.
McLoone is believed to have partaken in a tradition known among the clergy as “Black Christmas.” Black references the color of mourning and All Souls Day on Nov. 2. when Catholics donate offerings in honor of deceased loved ones. Christmas references the self-gifting. Philly Catholics might want to check to see if their pastor or parish priests played Secret Santa and “gifted” All Souls donations into their personal bank accounts.
If you’ve lived in the Archdiocese your entire life and haven’t heard of the Black Christmas felony tradition, join the club. The leadership never seems to share information when it comes to possible criminal activity that could impact us.
Let Us Remember…
The Archdiocese did not report McLoone’s alleged theft of parish funds to law enforcement. Learning of it through the news media, the local D.A. opened a case which led to the arrest.
It would seem unlikely that Msgr. McLoone embarked on this alleged crime at age 50. Has the Archdiocese investigated the financial records of his former parishes? It seems he was doing what other priests have done for years with the All Souls collection. Although, many may have used the proceeds for more PG-rated activities than McLoone. See article linked below.
If only 12 priests participated in the long-held All Souls tradition during the same time frame as McLoone, the amount stolen from Philly parishioners would be about a half million. Odds are there were more than 12 with sticky fingers.
The Archdiocese has taken a hard line on some recent financial crimes. Their former female CFO and a clergy abuse victim both served prison time for theft of funds.
Archdiocesan Response: Cue the Crickets
We contacted the Archdiocese to alert them that many of their clergy may have committed felony theft by pocketing the All Souls donations over the years. Bypassing the Ethicspoint hotline, several emails were sent and various offices were called. We were referred back to John Delaney, Office of Investigations. He has not responded. We reached out to Msgr. Daniel Kutys, moderator of the Curia in the Archdiocese. He has not responded.
We also reached out to law enforcement. They responded within 30 minutes.
What is the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s plan for turning over information to law enforcement and laity?
Clergy whose crime falls within the statute of limitations need to be prosecuted in the jurisdiction in which the crime took place. Will the archdiocese turn them in?
For thefts that fall outside of the statutes for prosecution, the Archdiocese should apologize and make restitution to parishioners who donated. Maybe no one has gotten back to us from the Archdiocese because they are working so hard on their plan.
We will update the post if we hear back from the Archdiocese.