Bronx priest asks for charges against alleged church thief to be dropped

BRONX (WABC) -- One New York City woman got a rare second chance during her arraignment on Friday.

She is charged with stealing money from the donation box in the Bronx.

But instead of being punished for her alleged crime, the priest at the church asked for those charges to be dropped.

Love and mercy are some of core principles of the Christian faith, so for Father Stephen Norton forgiving this woman was not only the right choice it was the only choice.

Father Norton says he wanted her and others to learn a bigger lesson beyond crime and punishment.

According to police, surveillance video captured 30-year-old Christa Polito inside St. Benedict's church last month.

You can see her as she cautiously looks around a prayer area where parishioners light candles for loved ones who have passed away.

Police say Polito used some sort of object to crack open a nearby donation box and stole $300 from the sanctuary.

With the help of surveillance video and tips Polito recently turned herself into police and was charged with petit larceny.

"People are struggling in a lot of different ways, in a lot of different ways, and so we want to be supportive of that helpful of that not hurtful in that process," Father Norton said.

But Father Stephen Norton asked the DA to drop Polito's charges, because forgiveness is the very foundation of the church.

"If we begin to back away from the forgiveness that Christ taught us to the poor, if we're not concerned about God's people in every way, in the church you should always be able to find that love that forgiveness," Father Norton said.

Father Norton says if anyone has thoughts of stealing from the church, he's happy to offer resources to help them so they don't feel crime is the only option.
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