Apostolic nuncio being sued by bankruptcy court

By Barb Arland-Fye

The Vatican’s ambassador to the United States, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, is being sued by the trustee handling settlement of the Diocese of Davenport’s bankruptcy case.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Iowa is seeking $73,000 from Archbishop Sambi, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, according to bankruptcy court documents.

The money in dispute comes from payments the Davenport Diocese made to the Apostolic Nunciature during a one year-period prior to filing for bankruptcy Oct. 10, 2006, court documents show.

During that period, the diocese made seven payments totaling $72,906. Approximately half of that money came from the annual collection taken in parishes throughout the diocese to support Peter’s Pence, which funds charitable causes chosen by the pope. The other half of the disputed money was a contribution the diocese made to the Vatican for its service to the universal church. That contribution is a requirement of canon law.

Trustee Robert Berger claims in the lawsuit that the payments were made to the Apostolic Nuncio with “an actual intent to hinder, delay, or defraud the Diocese’s creditors.”

Char Maaske, the diocese’s chief financial officer, said the money from the Peter’s Pence collection was “not our money, we were just a pass-through” for parishioners’ donations to the charitable fund. The money paid to the Vatican as part of the diocese’s canon law obligation was a matter of the diocese paying its quarterly bills in the normal course of business, she added.

The Catholic Messenger was unsuccessful in reaching Berger or Archbishop Sambi for comment.

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