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USA    PRIEST GIVES $A3.7 MILLION TO 'NEEDY' PARISHIONERS
A retired priest known for his generosity to the homeless and unemployed is being investigated for the theft of $A3.7 million from his former church, authorities have said.
    75 year old Msgr Thomas Gradilone, who retired last year after running the Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in New York City for almost 20 years, is being investigated by the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens and the Queens district attorney's office, church officials said Sunday.
    Bishop Thomas Daily, who heads the diocese, said Gradilone told him that the missing money was donated to the needy but that he was unable to recall the names of the individuals and organizations that received it.
    "I have learned that substantial sums of money have passed from Msgr Gradilone to one or more individuals in amounts that greatly exceed the bounds of charity," the bishop told shocked parishioners at a Mass on Sunday.
    Church officials alerted District Attorney Richard Brown about the missing millions of dollars two weeks ago. Brown's office acknowledged the investigation Sunday but declined to comment on it.
    The church, established in 1917, is one of the largest and richest in the diocese, which serves 1.6 million Catholics in Brooklyn and Queens. It raises about $9,300 in collections each Sunday.
   
AP
   
4 Oct 00



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