Australian actor Mel Gibson has poured another $15.2 million into his controversial private church in California’s exclusive beachside suburb of Malibu.
US federal tax filings showed Gibson’s Holy Family Catholic Church now has tax-free assets worth a total of $64 million.
Gibson is the sole contributor to the church, which has a small congregation of about 70 members and follows a 500-year-old ethos.
Among the church’s assets were art works with a listed value of almost $760,000.
Gibson listed three major expenses for 2007, including an architect and landscaper who have done work in and around the church. He also paid a law firm $105,000 for its services, but his church did not appear to donate to charities.
Gibson’s secretive sect is not recognised by the Catholic Church because it does not acknowledge the authority of the Pope or the Vatican and rejects the universally accepted teachings of the Second Vatican Council.
The church’s financial coffers are impressive, particularly when compared to the funds of other religious organisations in the US.
The Archdiocese of New York’s Catholic Charities organisation listed its total assets at the end of 2006 as only $5.1 million.
Gibson’s church, which offers a daily morning Mass in Latin, follows an antiquated ideology of Catholicism dating back to the 16th century.
Female followers must abide by a strict dress code requiring them to wear veils over their hair and long skirts. Pants are banned.
The exclusive parish caters for about 70 members, with the existing chapel having seating for 100 people.
In the past two years Gibson, 52, has overseen the building of a much bigger Spanish mission-style church which will seat about 400 people. The church, launched in 1999, is on the famed Mulholland Drive, set among lush Tuscan-style gardens. It does not welcome strangers and has high fences and a heavy security presence.