Bishop's Letter Regarding Fr. Sal Ciullo

February 19, 2002 Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ: When I assumed the role of Bishop of Arlington on March 25, 1999, one of the first policies I implemented was to mandate an independent financial audit of each parish when a pastor is reassigned, retires or dies. The reasoning behind this policy is to ensure that the incoming pastor begins with a clean slate, and that each parish is in sound fiscal condition. In June of 2000, Father Salvator Ciullo was reassigned from St. Raymond of Penafort Parish in Fairfax Station to Queen of Apostles Parish in Alexandria during a normal redistribution of diocesan priests within the diocese. As a result of this reassignment, St. Raymond of Penafort Parish underwent the mandatory financial audit in accordance with the new diocesan policy. Auditors discovered financial irregularities, and Father Ciullo, in accordance with normal diocesan policy, was placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of a forensic investigation by an independent accounting firm. On Nov. 9, 2001, Father Ciullo pled guilty to embezzling $240,000 from at least two parishes where he had served. A more extensive forensic audit revealed that the amount of money misappropriated was much higher, and on Tuesday, Feb. 19, Fairfax County Circuit Court Judge Jonathan Thacher sentenced Father Ciullo to five years imprisonment, but the sentence was then suspended by the judge on the condition that Father Ciullo satisfactorily complete two years of supervised probation. In addition, while recognizing that Father Ciullo strenuously disputed certain findings of a professional forensic investigation by an independent accounting firm retained by the Diocese of Arlington, the Court recognized and endorsed a settlement agreement negotiated between the diocese and Father Ciullo under which payments of just over $1.1 million are being made to the diocese. Although countless people have benefited from Father Ciullo’s sacramental ministry over the years he has served as a priest in this diocese, many people are personally pained, as I am, by Father Ciullo’s actions and their consequences. I know this has been a difficult time for Father Ciullo as he comes to the recognition of the harm which he has caused the Church. For me, this has been a disappointing and trying time; nevertheless, I remain committed to ensuring that the money contributed to the Church by the good men and women of this diocese is used to support the mission of the diocese and its parishes. The Diocese of Arlington has been richly blessed with many wonderful priests and religious. I remain fully confident in these men and women and praise them for their true dedication, tireless service and excellent pastoral care, which edify me and all the faithful of our diocese. I will do all in my power to restore the confidence and trust of the people of this diocese by continuing sound fiscal oversight and accountability. As your bishop, I wanted to update you on this situation and to ensure you that this process was conducted fairly and equitably for all parties involved. Father Ciullo has resigned as pastor of Queen of Apostles, and his delegated faculties have been withdrawn. I ask for your prayers for Father Ciullo as he begins to rebuild his life, and reassure you that I am safeguarding the money you contribute to the Church. May God continue to watch over and guide the Diocese of Arlington as we together collaborate in the mission of the Church. Faithfully in Christ, Most Rev. Paul S. Loverde
Bishop of Arlington

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