A bishop and four priests have been arrested in Brazil on suspicion of diverting church funds of £425,000.

The group is accused of spending donations, wedding and baptism fees on personal expenses, including a cattle farm and a lottery ticket shop.

The alleged diversion of funds took place in the cities of Formosa, Posse and Planaltina.

Bishop José Ronaldo Ribeiro is among those arrested.

A spokeswoman for the Goiás state prosecutor’s office has not confirmed the names of the other clergymen.

The Vatican has announced the appointment of an extraordinary administrator to serve in Bishop Ronaldo’s absence. Although the Pope has not removed Bishop Ronaldo from his post, Archbishop Paulo Mendes Peixoto of Uberaba will fulfil his duties in the diocese of Formosa. The term used by the Vatican was “sede plena et ad nutum Sanctae Sedis”, used when the bishop is unable to continue leading the diocese.

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