ANALYSIS: Jackson Diocese weathers series of controversies in 2019

Starkville Daily News

Oct. 28, 2019

By Ryan Phillips

Editor’s Note: This story is an analysis of the controversies facing the Catholic Diocese of Jackson over the last year, meant to be a companion piece with our Sunday story about the current status of the investigation at St. Joseph and the Jackson Diocese.

As the wheels continue to spin on the Lenin Vargas case, the Catholic Diocese of Jackson has also endured several other high-profile controversies since last November.

Most recently, the Diocese was reported to be on the receiving end of a civil lawsuit from its former director of finance, Arie “Aad” Mattheus de Lange, who has sued the Diocese and Bishop Joseph Kopacz, claiming he was fired in retaliation for speaking out against budget practices.

First reported by the Clarion Ledger in Jackson earlier this month, the lawsuit alleges that the reasons provided for de Lange’s termination were “false, pretextual, and did not rise to the level of grave reason.”

“Moreover, it is inexplicable how [the Diocese] could have determined there was a grave reason to terminate de Lange based upon his job performance where there was not a single performance appraisal/review,” the lawsuit states. “De Lange’s discharge was retaliatory in nature based upon his reasonable objection to the unrealistic budget proposed for Catholic Charities and the potential adverse impact it posed to the diocese.”

According to his LinkedIN resume, de Lange worked as the CFO for the Jackson Diocese from February 2013 until October 2018. The lawsuit alleges Kopacz fired him on Oct. 3, 2018 — roughly a month before news broke of the search warrant involving Vargas.

De Lange’s resume goes on to say he immediately found work as interim CFO of the Catholic Diocese of La Crosse, in La Crosse, Wisconsin, before being named as the Chief Finance Officer and Business Manager of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, in Texas.

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