Mel's Passion Play

Gibson put $10 million in his renegade church basket

New York Post/October 22, 2008

The ultra-conservative Catholic sect founded by Mel Gibson is now worth $42 million, according to tax records made public yesterday.

The Holy Family Catholic Church, a controversial group that is not sanctioned by the Vatican, received a $9.89 million cash infusion from the actor himself, the organization's 2007 tax records show.

Money given to the church is not taxed and funneled through the A.P. Reilly Foundation, which was named after Gibson's late mother, and is based in the same office as his Icon Productions film company.

He had made a similar $10 million donation to his church, where he and his wife Robyn are directors, in 2006, according to his records available on the Web site Guidestar.

The foundation lists no other donors.

The donations were first reported by

Gibson, who moved from upstate New York to Australia at age 12, was raised by an ultraconservative father who has made numerous statements denying the Holocaust.

The actor's own dogmatic brand of Catholicism became international news with the production of his 2004 hit "The Passion of the Christ," which critics said could encourage anti-Semitism.

Gibson was forced to explain his beliefs again after his 2006 bust for drunken driving when he spewed an anti-Semitic tirade at his arresting officer.

He declined to comment for this story, his publicist, Alan Nierob, said.

Set off the scenic Mulholland Highway in Malibu, Gibson's church resembles an old Spanish mission with a 400-person seating capacity and tight security.

Despite its size, it is estimated to have only 100 active members - that's $420,000 per member. By contrast, the Los Angeles Archdiocese is worth $626 million with 4.3 million parishioners - or $144 per member.

The Roman Catholic Church does not recognize Gibson's secretive sect because it doesn't acknowledge the supremacy of the Vatican.

Services at Gibson's church follow a 16th-century style of Catholicism, with Mass conducted entirely in Latin and a strict dress code for women.

Among the church's assets are $500,000 worth of art, documents show. It paid $69,000 for legal services and also employed an architect and landscaper for the grounds.

Visitors have described the church building as Spartan with a simple altar and exposed wooden beams in the ceiling.

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