Over the weekend, Charles Morerod, the Bishop of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg suspended the 52-year-old curé from all duties while an investigation continues.
The church has filed a criminal complaint for embezzlement of funds.
Over a period of about a year the priest allegedly took thousands of francs normally destined for use by the parishes of Saint Etienne and Saint Nicolas de Flue, over which he had charge.
“He recognizes the facts and apologizes,” Marc Donzé, episcopal vicar for the canton of Vaud, is quoted as saying by Le Matin.
“He is suspended from his duties at least until the judgment,” Donzé said.
“The parishioners are more sad than angry.”
Donzé declined to comment further because of the investigation under way.
“It’s sad because all this is happening in the Christmas season,” a parishioner of the Saint Nicolas church in her 70s told Le Matin.
It is also occurring “when there are not many priests and this gives one more time a bad image of the church, which already suffers a lot from the excessive media exposure of pedophile scandals.”
“All this disgusts me,” Daniel Kasprzyk, a Catholic from one of the parishes told the paper.
“We sometimes give money to the church,” he said.
“Here, that’s really over.”
The priest in question is not commenting on the situation.
A former plumber and bank employee from Geneva, he was ordained as a priest at the age of 39, according to a CV posted on the website of the Saint Etienne parish.
As a priest he has served in the Lausanne parishes for the past two years after stints elsewhere in the canton of Vaud in Morges, Renens and the Vallée de Joux.
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