Friday, May 28, 2010

Nova Scotia diocese sells 400 properties to pay legal fees

Nova Scotia diocese sells 400 properties to pay legal fees
May. 27, 2010
By Connor MacEachern Catholic News Service
ANTIGONISH, Nova Scotia (CNS) -- The Diocese of Antigonish will put up about 400 properties for sale in an effort to raise the money necessary to cover legal settlement and sexual abuse lawsuit costs.

Father Paul Abbass, diocesan spokesman, told parishioners in a series of talks that the diocese has raised about one-third of the money necessary to cover the legal costs.

"We have commitments of close to 6 million (Canadian) dollars ($5.75 million)," he said. "That pretty much taps out what we can expect from that particular exercise of the pooling of liquid assets."

Parishes in the diocese were asked to contribute all but essential money to the legal settlement fund, which meant larger parishes donated much more than others, Father Abbass said.

"It's hard to say that there's any fair practice going on here," he said. "It's equal to every parish in the sense that every parish is asked for everything."

The remaining CA$12.5 million must come from the sale of all "non-core assets," which include all property except occupied churches and church houses, Father Abbass said. A financial study said the diocese would be able to meet the fiscal responsibilities if all properties were sold, he added.

The Catholic Episcopal Corp. of Antigonish -- the corporate arm of the diocese -- has contributed about CA$2 million to various legal fees. That amount is not included in the CA$6 million total, said Jim Gogan, a member of the legal and financial settlement committee.

Consultant Jeanie McCharles, who will oversee the sale of all properties, was meeting with diocesan representatives in late May to develop a program and a standard for the sales.

Father Abbass said parishioners will have the first chance to buy any properties. If parishioners refuse to make an offer on a property, it will be listed publicly, he added.

No comments: