Catholic Culture News
Catholic Culture News

on the block

By Diogenes ( articles ) | May 16, 2007

"Last December," writes Cardinal Roger Mahony, "the Archdiocese of Los Angeles settled 46 civil cases in which clergy abuse had been alleged. The total settlement cost was $60 million, with the Archdiocese contributing approximately $40 million of the total amount." So, you're asking yourselves, where is the Archdiocese going to come up with $40 million for the pederasty payment? His Eminence has the answer pat:

As I also said last December, this will require the Archdiocese to begin to dispose of non-essential real estate properties in order to raise funds for coming settlements, and to re-evaluate some of the services and ministries it provides to parishes.

Hardly a surprise to us knuckle-draggers. Already in August of 2005 your Uncle Di postulated a real estate liquidation strategy along the same lines:

"WE'RE BUILDING for the future," claims Los Angeles Archdiocesan Projects Manager Msgr. Bud Bradelstad. The man who directs its long-range planning explained that California's largest Catholic diocese designs its churches with a view to future use -- as warehouses, fast-food outlets, or even skating rinks.

"We estimate between 40 and 70 percent of our properties will be sold in ten years' time," said Bradelstad, "just to pay the buggery bill. So resale value is hugely important to us. Now if you sell a church that can be easily converted into a Wendy's, say, or a Jiffy-Lube, you're getting maybe 80 cents back on your construction cost dollar, compared with 15 cents for a gothic-style building."

Parody, regrettably, becomes reality. Back to the Cardinal's announcement:

The Archdiocese does not invest in real estate as a goal; rather, properties were acquired over the years to establish new parishes, schools, various charitable institutions, convents, etc. Some properties are held for future parishes, future schools, and similar ministry purposes. Our preference would be to retain all of those properties. But we have no other way to raise our share of money for coming settlements except through such sales.

Of course, one could go to court instead of settling, but that course of action might put certain persons in a position to choose between perjury and ... and ... and come to think of it, $40 million isn't all that much when you consider bunking conditions at San Quentin.

My earlier speculation that churches would be sold turns out to be premature, at least according to the Cardinal's solemn assurances:

No parishes or parish schools will be closed to fund these settlements, nor will their essential ministries be affected by these sales. None of the properties being considered for sale are being used by the parishes of the Archdiocese.

Note that I said "premature." The $40 million raised by this yard sale will pay off only 46 abuse cases. Over 500 -- that's five - zero - zero -- remain to be taken care of. That means a lot of door-to-door candy bar sales, if earlier settlement figures are any indication. And what's the key difference between the 46 cases already settled and the 500 yet to be fought out? The ones the Cardinal's put behind him are those that happened on his watch. As for the 500 Christmasses Yet to Come, no doubt the Cardinal's moral earnestness will convince the insurance companies to pay up without a murmur and let the laity off the hook.

The first cash-cow to be sacrificed on the altar? The Chancery:

With concurrence of our major consultative bodies, I have requested that the first major property to be sold will be the Archdiocesan Catholic Center, located on Wilshire Blvd., in the mid-Wilshire area of Los Angeles. It is only right that the Archdiocese begin this process by demonstrating our commitment to reach final settlement in these cases by selling our central administrative building. We would then either lease other lesser office space for our ministries and services, or possibly lease back some space in the existing building.

"...or possibly lease back some space in the existing building." There's a word for this style of pastoral leadership that escapes me at the moment. You'll be pleased to learn that the title of the Implementation Document for the Los Angeles Archdiocesan Synod is, fittingly enough, Rebuild My Church. Perhaps the lay response, more in the spirit of Moses, will be named "Re-Lease My People!"

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