Archbishop: I Had to Sell Residence

By Eric Convey and Elisabeth J. Beardsley
Boston Herald
December 5, 2003

Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley said he decided to sell the ornate residence occupied by his predecessors for more than 70 years because "there really were not a lot of choices left."

"(I) would have preferred to have another solution," he told The Pilot newspaper, which is published by the Archdiocese of Boston. "(It's) very important for the archdiocese to step up to the plate and make whatever sacrifice is necessary to bring about a settlement and thus further the process of healing and reconciliation in the archdiocese."

O'Malley was not available for interviews with the secular press following the Wednesday decision to sell the property to help fund an $85 million settlement in clergy sexual molestation cases.

The Rev. Christopher J. Coyne, O'Malley's spokesman, said yesterday the archdiocese needs to raise the money within two years to pay off short-term notes it used to finance the settlement.

The church hopes to find a buyer within a year, he said.

Under a formal arrangement, the plaintiffs are telling their stories to arbitrators who will then set payments between $80,000 and $300,000, depending on the severity of abuse and its long-term effects.

Victims expect to get their checks by Dec. 22, said Mitchell Garabedian, a lawyer who represents 120 plaintiffs who are taking part in the settlement process.

Garabedian said he was leery of trusting church officials, since his clients were burned by an archdiocesan about-face after a settlement was announced last year.

Nevertheless, he said, "I've been assured and reassured by the arbitrator and by the attorney for the church that the $85 million is in place."

Meanwhile, one political leader heaped praise on O'Malley's decision to offload the 75-year-old mansion.

"In the scheme of things, I'm sure the church, as any organization, would like to hang on to all its assets," said House Speaker Thomas M. Finneran, a Catholic. "It doesn't have that choice here."

"I think Bishop O'Malley is off to a great start," Finneran said. "I think he's obviously willing to do anything and everything in his power to try to put all the issues that have been raised by this behind him, including financial."


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.