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German priest confesses at Sunday mass to embezzling church funds for lottery

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German priest confesses at Sunday mass to embezzling church funds for lottery
Ballenstedt as seen from a view out of its castle's gate. Photo: DPA
16:05 CET+01:00
A Catholic priest in Germany, lured by a get-rich-quick Internet scam, has admitted to embezzling a small fortune from his parish, a diocese spokeswoman said Monday.

The preacher in the central Harz Mountains region confessed to his congregants at this week's Sunday mass that he had skimmed €120,000 from church funds. 

"I let myself get snared by crooks on the Internet" who were running a bogus lottery, the 64-year-old clergyman said, who admitted that he had been taking the funds since summer. "They convinced me to transfer money to them several times."

His exact motivation was not revealed. 

The spokeswoman said the priest had already turned himself in to the police and his bishop, Gerhard Feige, on Friday.

"No pastor and no church employee may misappropriate funds intended for the parish," said Feige on Sunday in a statement released by the local diocese in Magdeburg. "He must repay everything and bear the consequences under state and church law!"

The bishop stripped the priest, whose name was not released, of his post on the parish board in the town of Ballenstedt and said he would take further disciplinary measures.

But it was not immediately clear whether the priest would lose his job - that's a decision that will be taken by the parish after the bishop makes his recommendation. 

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