When Priests Steal: German Skims From Plate For 40 Years, Doesn’t Spend A Dime

| October 22, 2011

WÜRZBURG – A bad case of “existential angst” is being cited as the driving force that led a German priest to squirrel away more than one million euros that he'd taken from his church’s collection plates and other donations over the course of 40 years.

One curious aspect of the case is that there was no final damage – material, at least. The money is all still there, and will soon be returned.

The fraud was perpetrated by a now elderly Catholic priest in the Laudenbach parish in Miltenberg, Germany near Frankfurt. For decades, the clergyman moved money around in different banks, didn’t book gift donations into parish accounts, and kept the money from some collection plates for himself.

However, the priest did not use the funds to lead a life of luxury, living modestly and even earning a reputation for frugality. A story that people familiar with the case like to tell is that the church organist was expected to return the old envelope on which the priest noted hymn numbers for the Sunday service because there was still some space left for new lists the following weeks.

On Thursday, the Würzburg Regional Court passed down a two-year sentence for embezzlement against the man, now 78. He will not serve jail time, although he will be on probation. He must settle a fine of 16,560 euros and, every month for three years, pay 200 euros to a Würzburg counseling hotline. The remaining money — 906,745 euros — goes to the church foundation in Laudenbach. Ultimately, the priest is expected to refund all the money to the foundation, which will add up to over a million euros.

A local church spokesperson said that it was "an important step that the priest had recognized that it was his responsibility to make reparation.”

 

http://www.worldcrunch.com/when-priests-steal-german-pastor-skims-plate-40-years-doesn-t-spend-dime/3973

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Category: Church Security

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