A recent report provided by the Associated Press has found that there is a non-profit organization named “Opus Bono Sacerdotti” that has been providing assistance quietly to priests who have been accused of sexual misconduct. This non-profit, which is located in Michigan, hides certain priests from public view who have been accused of sexual misconduct and pays for their livelihoods after being terminated from their priesthood positions. One of the co-founders, Joe Maher, who had been one of the group’s biggest spokesman over the years, has been forced to step down from his presidential role in the organization due to his violations of Michigan’s charity law.
The investigation began when Maher’s daughter, Mary Rose, wrote a letter to Michigan’s state attorney office accusing Opus of financial misconduct. She alleged within the letter that, “A simple investigation into the Michigan non-profit charity Opus Bono Sacerdotii would bring to light the millions of embezzled dollars, years of mail fraud, and the constant systemic abuse of donations.”
However, testimony from a former board member, J. Michael Carrigan, stated,
“…whatever the co-founders paid themselves was only to reimburse the tens of thousands of dollars they spent out of their own pockets supporting priests in Opus Bono’s early days.”
Even so, the investigation into Opus has resulted in finding that the leaders of the organization used the donated funds to pay for managing member’s lunches, and other personal expenses in violation of Michigan’s charity law. The violation of Michigan’s charity law has prompted the Michigan Attorney General’s office to force the now former-president and former-treasurer, Joe Maher and Peter Ferrara, to resign from their posts, and barred Maher from being involved in another non-profit in Michigan again.
However, recently Joe Maher has created another organization under the name Men of Melchizedek, which is registered in Indiana, but its website says its principal office is located in Michigan. The new organization lists Joe Maher as its current president. It is still unclear if this organization violates the settlement made by Michigan’s State Attorney’s office for Joe Maher.
The Opus organization still exists, the group’s board has been entirely replaced, and the new board has named an attorney, John Smith, as its new president. After the fallout of this investigation, Opus’s new board has declared that it is “refocusing” its mission back to conducting retreats for removed priests.
The Michigan attorney’s office will likely monitor the Opus organization, and its new leadership to ensure Michigan’s charity law is not violated again by the organization. If you or someone you know may have suffered sexual abuse by a Church Priest, Pastor, Minister, Clergy Member, Employer, or person of authority, do not stand alone. Please fill out the form or call us at (888) 869-8100. Our firm offers free consultations to help you access compensation and help with your recovery.