Local News
Church sells land to cover settlement costs
By Monica Davis
Jul 26, 2007 - 12:30:41 AM

LOS ANGELES—The L.A. Archdiocese depleted its litigation reserve fund in December for a partial clergy-abuse settlement.  Now in order to cover at least a $250 million expense for victims of the July clergy-abuse settlement it must liquidate investments, sell 50 non-parish properties, and take out bank loans.

Though the Archdiocese headquarters will be sold, Cardinal Mahony affirms that essential ministries, parish properties, or schools will not be sold.  Church attorney Michael J. Hennigan says the Los Angeles Archdiocese “will have to be a much leaner operation than it is now".  But should recipients from church programs, the skid row dwellers who receive free food from the Los Angeles Catholic Worker, be worried? 

Cardinal Mahony suggests not. Although the offices for the central administration, located at 3424 Wilshire, will be the first property up for sale what is not up for sale is the $189-million Cathedral of Our Lady.  Mahony announced that the archdiocese headquarters will be sold and the archdiocese may lease office space from the buyer or shall find a new headquarters. Some realtors assess the building at $40 million and the archdiocese may rake in needed funds from selling some vacant lands in developing Santa Clarita.

The sale of liquid assets, stocks and bonds, shall provide the most direct funds for the archdiocese, says Hennigan.  Charles Zech, economics professor at Villanova University, assumes that the liquidation of funds will mean a “gap in the budget that’s going to have to be made up somehow.”

Though the Diocese of Orange had to pay $100 million for a 2005 settlement it did not have suffer detrimental cutbacks to programs.  In Boston the opposite proved true when it had to cover the expenses of a $85-million settlement and lost 80 parishes.  This year in San Diego Bishop Robert Brom pursued bankruptcy protection when claims of clergy abuse surfaced.

Nevertheless, despite speculations leaning this or that way, we must wait to see if the LA archdiocese will successfully cover expenses without selling schools or cutting essential programs.

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