Priest “suspected” of €1.5 million fraud. Lawyer cites political witchhunt

A priest under investigation for the alleged “diverting of €1.5 million” that should have gone to an institution he was running has taken a one-year’s sabbatical, to rethink his life and protect his wife and family, reports tabloid Correio da Manhã.

Padre Ernesto Lúcio, suspected of “illicit enrichment”, runs an estate agency and has other businesses, including one involving “chemical and mining products” says the paper.

Indeed, his lawyer claims this could be behind the complaint presented against him alleging that he has diverted €1.5 million that should have gone to the diocesan branch of Cáritas where he used to be president.

“It is a question of envy”, the lawyer is quoted as telling the paper. “He supported his area politically and the losers have taken this form of behaviour. I have no doubt whatsoever that it is a question of political disagreements”.

Says CM, this is not the first time Padre Lúcio who has been running a parish in Vila Real for the last 20 years has been “investigated”, but that he has “never been condemned”.

As for his having a family at the same time as being a Catholic priest his lawyer is quoted by CM as saying that “liking women is not a crime” and that the Church should “take a forward step and allow priests to marry.

“Priests are like other men”, he added. “It would be much worse if there was homosexuality”.

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