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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  • Posted by: - May. 18, 2007 9:54 AM ET USA

    These guys are funny in a sad sort of way. Here in Milwaukee we have the same kind of double speak. Archbishop Weakland, who still runs the archdiocese in reality, issued some document called "Walls without Euchariist" in the Jubilee Year, I believe. That is what the laity have been left with after the devestation he has wrought. As parishes continue to be closed those words or Weakland are ever so true. And the happy-go-lucky Archbishop Dolan just smiles.

  • Posted by: - May. 17, 2007 6:40 AM ET USA

    "We have closed parishes and sold real estate without even a nod to the fact that if it were not for the scandal, these funds could have been used to repair rundown parishes or underwrite financially strapped schools" BostonBlackey is right. Some bishops (and their sycophants in chancery offices) seem to ignore the fact that the sheep are more savvy to the idea that money is fungible. A little fraternal correction, we pray.

  • Posted by: - May. 16, 2007 8:48 PM ET USA

    A wolf in shepards clothing! God bless Mother Angelica,who knew what he was many years ago, she warned us in her most Holy and wonderful way.

  • Posted by: - May. 16, 2007 7:41 PM ET USA

    I think that at about this point in the Book of Exodus, Pharaoh was about to get his first Mosaic butt kicking.

  • Posted by: - May. 16, 2007 7:34 PM ET USA

    And the cost of constructing the Archdiocesan taj mahal (err "Cathedral") would have paid how many claims? Oh, excuse me. Irrelevant question

  • Posted by: - May. 16, 2007 7:28 PM ET USA

    Its San Andreas' fault.

  • Posted by: - May. 16, 2007 7:25 PM ET USA

    "There's a word for this style of pastoral leadership" We are a Lessor people.

  • Posted by: - May. 16, 2007 6:00 PM ET USA

    This is simialr to the situation in Boston where the chorus is a persistent: none of the funds to pay for the perasts will come from normal operating funds. We have closed parishes and sold real estate without even a nod to the fact that if it were not for the scandal, these funds could have been used to repair rundown parishes or underwrite financially strapped schools. The whole thing is maddening; epsecially since the hierarchy continues to treat us like imbeciles with deep pockets

  • Posted by: - May. 16, 2007 5:26 PM ET USA

    What does a bishop have to do--how bad of a leader must he be--to get removed from this high office? This is a serious question. Does anyone know?

  • Posted by: - May. 16, 2007 3:35 PM ET USA

    Too bad part of the "deal" isn't Mahony losing his red hat and his status as a bishop.

  • Posted by: - May. 16, 2007 2:49 PM ET USA

    Gino - what have the Albanian people ever done to you?

  • Posted by: - May. 16, 2007 2:25 PM ET USA

    The "good Cardinal" never fails us! Double speak, self protection and obfuscation are always evident whenever the "good Cardinal" pontificates. I wonder what will be left to sell when the next 500 cases come up. The "good Cardinal" is sure these 46 are protecting him; damn the others! He is dangerous and should be transferred to a nice little parish in Albania.

  • Posted by: - May. 16, 2007 1:39 PM ET USA

    How do you get a dragon to decapitate itself? This is a case study.