Monk in cash-for-annulments case
An Italian monk has been sacked for demanding bribes to help couples get their marriages annulled, an Italian newspaper reported Thursday.
The monk, who was not identified, allegedly asked for thousands of euros to oil the wheels of Catholic Church bureaucracy.
In return for the money, he reportedly promised to speed applications to the Vatican from his tribunal in the Marche region.
Church sources confirmed the monk had been moved to another city but said he faced no other sanction.
The monk, a member of the Missionaries of Faith order, was secretly taped and filmed by a private eye posing as a desperate husband, the Resto del Carlino daily reported.
The newspaper reported that the friar had been moved to this coastal Marche city after he was removed from a similar post in Rome.
"What this official did borders on blasphemy," the former head of the Marche Ecclesiastical Tribunal, Msgr Vinicio Albanesi, told Il Resto del Carlino.
Msgr Albanesi said the monk could "in theory" be excommunicated, or thrown out of the Church.
Albanesi likened the offence to the now-antiquated crime of simony, the buying or selling of spiritual things.
But Church sources said the friar's reported actions were not viewed as serious enough to warrant further punishment.
The Catholic Church considers divorce a sin and it is very hard to obtain annulments.
There are stringent requirements for annulment.
Applications must justify their case - proving, for example, that one or both parties had no intention to remain faithful or have children.
In effect, couples must show that the bond of matrimony was entered into invalidly - that is, that a true marriage according to God never actually took place.
Divorced Catholics usually seek annulment so they can remarry with the Church's blessing.