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Philippine bishops put on alert over suspected scammer

Warning issued over a 'dubious' person seeking donations by claiming to be close to Pope Francis
Philippine bishops put on alert over suspected scammer

Pope Francis waves from a window overlooking an empty St. Peter’s Square on May 24. Bishops in the Philippines have been warned about a ‘dubious’ figure seeking donations by claiming to be close confidant of the Holy Father. (Photo: AFP)

Published: May 26, 2020 09:22 AM GMT
Updated: May 26, 2020 09:42 AM GMT

The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has issued an alert warning bishops and diocesan administrators to beware of a “dubious person and questionable group” using the name of Pope Francis to collect donations.

In a circular, the CBCP warned of a certain individual calling himself Christian Eduardo Tietze who reportedly claims to be president of a Catholic group called the Peace for Life Foundation and has already collected donations from various church groups and parishes in Manila.

The circular was in response to a request from the Apostolic Nunciature in the Philippines to CBCP president Archbishop Romulo Valles asking him to alert all Philippine dioceses about the man and his organization.

Monsignor Julien Kabore, charge d’affaires at the Apostolic Nunciature, sent the request in a letter to Archbishop Valles stating that Tietze had claimed he was “close to the Holy Father and to the Holy See.”

This is not the first time the pope and Philippine bishops have become a target of scammers.

In 2019, a person claiming to be a “missionary from the Vatican” collected money from Manila churchgoers claiming he was sent by the papal almoner to seek aid for papal projects.

The person, who was not named in reports, spoke Italian and was able to convince Filipino Catholics he was a legitimate representative of the Holy Father.

In January, newly ordained Sorsogon Bishop Jose Alan Dialogo said that his Facebook page was hacked. He also claimed that the hackers had been asking for donations for his new diocese in the south of Luzon.

“My brother bishops are now extra careful when it comes to solicitations. That is why all church projects and fund-raising drives are officially announced in different parishes so that people can verify if they are true,” Bishop Arturo Bastes, former chairman of the CBCP’s Commission on Mission, told UCA News.

Bishop Bastes has also said that due to quarantine protocols there are fewer of these official announcements, making the Church more vulnerable to scammers.

It was not clear whether Tietze and the Peace for Life Foundation were connected to an organization with the same name based in Lahore, Pakistan.

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