A Croatian priest with “insatiable egotism” has run off with almost one million euro ($1.3 million) after illegally selling church property, officials said on Tuesday, amid media reports the Catholic clergyman had fled with a married woman.
Franciscan priest Sime Nimac earlier this year signed a deal with a local firm to sell a plot of church land, the Split archdiocese said in statement.
Nimac, 34, the former parish priest of Baska Voda on the southern Adriatic coast, in May withdrew more than 980,000 euro in cash from the parish’s account “without a valid explanation why the money was taken and what it will be used for”, the archdiocese said.
“The property was sold without the explicit written consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority,” the statement said, adding that it had filed a lawsuit to nullify the sale, London’s The Daily Telegraph reported.
“At the same time we express our heartfelt understanding for the public revulsion caused by the insatiable egotism of the individual in question,” the statement continued. “We offer a sincere apology on behalf of all Friars of the Franciscan Order.”
Local media has reported that the priest, described as a handsome aficionado of expensive clothes, fast cars and luxury goods, had fled the country with a young woman who is a married employee of the bank from which the cash was withdrawn.
According to media reports, Nimac had recently demanded to be defrocked.
Nearly 90 per cent of Croatia’s 4.2 million population are Roman Catholics.
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