Everyone is susceptible to sin, even men of the cloth. Such is the case for Father Amer Saka, a priest at the St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church in London, Ontario. On February 23, Saka notified bishop Emanuel Shaleta that at least a half a million dollars were lost due to his gambling compulsion. Shaleta told The Star that Saka confessed his sins to him over the phone.
He called me on the phone and . . . said he lost all the money. I said, ‘How?’ He said, Gambling.’ We believe that Father Saka has a serious gambling problem and that these funds may have been used for that purpose. Since there is an investigation going on, we cannot confirm what he’s saying.
Shaleta suspended Saka immediately, and his next course of action was to drive the embattled priest to Southdown Institute, a rehab facility for priests battling addictions and spiritual maladies of various sorts. No charges have been filed against Saka, but police are currently investigating the matter.
The Chaldean Catholic Church is headquartered in Baghdad, and falls under the watchful eye of the Vatican. The Toronto branch has been helping Iraqi immigrants move to Canada, and Father Saka was the leader of a “constituent group” helping round the funds to help those immigrants settle. Because of Saka’s gambling, though, the Hamilton diocese has taken claim of the financial support for those refugees.
“It is wrong for a priest to go and gamble. It’s against the rules,” Bishop Shaleta said.
(via The Star)