Italian priest in therapy after gambling away €500k of parish money

Rome – An Italian priest has gambled away more than 500,000 euros (620,000 dollars) of his parish money, media reports said Thursday, backed up by the local Catholic Church.

Father Flavio Gobbo, 48, negotiated a plea bargain for a suspended two-year jail term for embezzlement, the Corriere della Sera newspaper said.

As part of the deal, he has promised to gradually return the money and signed up for therapy against gambling addiction, with the support of his church superiors.

"In this long and strenous journey, Father Flavio has mainly found support in prayers, but also in the will to return soon" to active ministry, the Diocese of Treviso said in a statement.

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Father Gobbo left his post as parish priest in Spinea, near Venice, in October 2016. At the time, the local church said he was suffering from exhaustion.