Story By: Ernest Bio Bogore, Sub-Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Newsflash
This priest has been found guilty of stealing 262,000 GBP and historical artefacts from the Church and his parishioners so he could afford a life of luxury that included buying Hugo Boss clothes.
He has been found guilty of stealing 238 liturgical objects, 42 of which are listed as Historic Monuments.
The thefts occurred between 2014 and 2017 while Stephane Cabanac was still a parish priest at the cathedral of Saint-Trophime in Arles in the southern French department of Rhone.
Reports say that he held the position of parish priest of the church from 2008 to 2017.
The Arles town hall, a plaintiff in the case, has estimated the damage caused by the thefts at 300,000 EUR (262,000 GBP).
After his arrest, several parishioners said that the priest was often seen in a Hugo Boss jacket and driving around in a brand new Italian car.
Patricia, another parishioner, told a local newspaper: “He had too much money for a priest. And then he spent a lot!”
Me Pontier, the city’s lawyer, said: “He has harmed the history of the Church and the history of France.”
Reports state that Stephane Cabanac sold the items (crucifixes, cassocks, chalices) to a buyer in Villefranche-sur-Saone, who then auctioned them off.
According to a local channel, the defendant explained that he had suffered moral harassment from another priest of the parish.
He told the judge: “I was in a deep state of unease. I developed this addiction.”
Stephane Cabanac is also accused of having embezzled 13,000 EUR (11,000 GBP) from the parish.
The criminal court of Tarascon sentenced the former priest to 15 months in prison, with the sentence suspended.
He said on the stand: “I regret this situation which has altered the confidence of my hierarchy.”
Reports say Stephane Cabanac will also have to compensate the city and the parish.
The parish claims to have suffered as a result of this affair, the donations of the faithful having fallen since the arrest of the former parish priest in January 2018.
Reacting to the priest’s condemnation, netizens did not hide their indignation.
One said: “One wonders how far it will go. It’s us a*seholes who work for honour, who try to save the heritage, you’re not the only ones in our region. The crooks are acting, they must be severely punished.”
The amount of the fine to be imposed on him will be set at a new hearing in September. His future within the Church is to be decided by a canonical tribunal.
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