Monday, June 7, 2010

Diocese pools church assets as part of settlement agreement

Diocese pools church assets as part of settlement agreement
Published on June 6th, 2010
The News, Canada
Peter Clarke Topics : MacDonald School , Casket Printing Publishing Company , Antigonish PICTOU – Some local churches are selling off some excess land to raise money for the ongoing legal troubles of the Diocese of Antigonish.

The Diocese of Antigonish is selling properties to fund the settlements from the class action lawsuit against it related to sexual abuse.

The diocese needs to raise $18 million to cover the costs of the sexual abuse settlement.

“The properties being sold are non-core properties,” said Rev. Paul Abbass, the Vicar General for the Diocese of Antigonish.

This means that churches and glebe houses are off limits but any other land that the churches own can be put on the block. Some of these could even be church halls on separate properties from individual churches.

One example is the Stella Maris Parish in Pictou. The Stella Maris Hall is down the street from the church and they also own the old MacDonald School behind the church. Buildings like these have the potential to be sold.

On top of revenue generated from property sales, the Diocese has received money from the parishes.

“Every parish has already pooled their money,” said Abbass.

They only forwarded excess revenue beyond facility and operating costs of the churches though.

“They haven’t got any choice,” said one local parishioner who doesn’t like to see the work of people in the past sold off for these purposes.

He said the whole situation, class-action suit and all is a screwed up situation and that nothing was done the right way.

“The big mistake by our church was made when each Parish was an individual entity and they amalgamated and now everything belongs to the diocese,” he said.

He added that it should definitely go back to that and thinks it will happen in the years to come.

Along with buildings, the diocese is the majority shareholder for the Casket Printing & Publishing Company in Antigonish and may be considering selling shares.

Abbass said that this also considered a non-core property and they will be looking to get some value from it.

Although the sales have been talked about for several weeks, the Diocese still doesn’t have a list of properties to be sold. Abbass said they should have the first list compiled within two weeks.

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