Priests accused of stealing millions

Two Roman Catholic priests stole millions in offerings and gifts made to their parish over several years, authorities said Thursday.

Monsignor John Skehan, who was pastor at St. Vincent Ferrer Catholic Church for four decades, was arrested Wednesday night on charges that he stole $8.6 million from the church, using the money to buy property and other assets, investigators said.

The 79-year-old priest was arrested at Palm Beach International Airport as he returned from Ireland.

The Rev. Francis Guinan, who succeeded Skehan three years ago, has disappeared and was being sought, authorities said. He is alleged to have stolen an unspecified amount of money to take gambling trips to Las Vegas and the Bahamas.

“Millions of dollars that should have gone to helping the homeless folks or the school itself” didn’t, said Amos Rojas Jr., a special agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.


No vote planned on U.N.’s Bolton

John R. Bolton’s quest for a longer lease on his temporary job as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations remained elusive Thursday as the Senate shied away from a vote to confirm him.

Sen. Richard Lugar, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, said the Senate likely would recess later this week without voting on his nomination. Lugar, R-Ind., said that no committee meeting had been scheduled to take up the controversial nominee.

The Senate is expected to return after the congressional elections in November. Bolton has been serving as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. under a recess appointment that is due to expire at the end of the year.

Lugar said that if one Democratic senator were to step forward and support Bolton, he might be able to set a committee vote before the recess. In the meantime, Lugar added, Sen. Lincoln Chafee, a Rhode Island Republican, is holding up the nomination.

Harrisburg, Pa.

Mormon dad can teach polygamy

A father may teach his young daughter about his religious belief in polygamy despite his ex-wife’s objections, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court said Thursday.

The 5-1 decision by the state’s highest court said Stanley M. Shepp has a constitutional right to express his beliefs about plural marriages and multiple wives even though bigamy is illegal. Shepp considers himself a fundamentalist Mormon, though the Mormon church officially renounces polygamy.

The girl’s mother, Tracey L. Roberts, testified that Shepp’s interest in polygamy broke up their marriage, and expressed concern that he may introduce the girl to men in preparation for marriage at age 13, according to the court opinion.

Justice Sandra Schultz Newman said that the state’s interest in enforcing the anti-bigamy law “is not an interest of the ‘highest order’ ” that would trump a parent’s right to tell a child about deeply held religious beliefs.

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