A priest in Canada is accused of spending over $500,000 meant for persecuted Christians on gambling.
Father Amer Saka, who is a priest in the Chaldean Catholic Church, is under investigation by the Ontario Provincial Police in the city of London, Ontario on a count of embezzlement. It is said Father Saka confessed to Bishop Emanuel Shaleta that he had lost the money in what he called a game of chance.
Shaleta told the Toronto Star: “He called me on the phone and . . . said he lost all the money. I said, ‘How?’ He said, ‘Gambling,’” and continued, “we believe that Father Saka has a serious gambling problem and that these funds may have been used for that purpose.” Unwilling to shed more detail on the situation he said, “since there is an investigation going on, we cannot confirm what he’s saying.”
Father Saka was suspended from his duties at the church of St. Joseph which is in the only Chaldean Catholic jurisdiction in Canada. Bishop Shaleta, who heads the jurisdiction, is said to have immediately driven down to London to take Father Saka to the Southdown Institute. The Institute specializes in helping Priests overcome personal difficulties such as alcoholism, depression, gambling and sexually abusive behavior.
The police case began after they received a complaint from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hamilton who told them in February that money was missing from a program they were involved with. The program that Father Saka headed was using accumulated funds to sponsor Syrian and Iraqi refugees to come to Canada. Saka was meant to handle the money that was donated by families who wanted to support other family members who were fleeing persecution by groups like the Islamic State.
Spokesperson for the London Police, constable Sandasha Bough told media “an investigation is underway.” So far no charges have been laid in the case and it is unknown whether the Crown prosecutor will lay charges on Father Saka for fraud or embezzlement.
The Chaldean Catholic Church in Canada was founded less than five years ago when Pope Benedict XVI gave them his blessing. The formation of the church was due largely to an influx in migration from Iraq, where the Chaldean Catholic church is based, where many Christians have been at the mercy of the atrocities committed by the Islamic State as they rampaged through Northern Iraq.
Monsignor Murray Kroetsch, chancellor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hamilton, oversees the various sponsorship programs meant to help Christians and others flee persecution. He commented on the matter of Father Saka saying: “We want to assure the refugees that our part of our agreement is looked after and that money will be provided to help them feel secure and help them find their footing in the country,” adding: “We need to assure them that we’re not just going to abandon them.”
Father Saka is not the only person who has tried to use to migrant crisis to enrich himself or to pay for his vices. A migrant in Austria has used the migrant crisis to make himself wealthy by creating fake charities and non existent migrant homes to defraud Austrian taxpayers. Migrant “Abdullah P.” is currently under investigation for defrauding the Austrian government to the tune of millions of euros.