Cathedral Now 'Sex' Collateral

New York Post [Boston]
December 10, 2003

The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston mortgaged its cathedral and seminary to finance a clergy sexual-abuse settlement that has grown to nearly $90 million, a spokesman confirmed yesterday.

The Cathedral of the Holy Cross and St. John's Seminary were mortgaged to secure bank loans so the archdiocese can get the settlement money this month, said the Rev. Christopher Coyne, a spokesman for the archdiocese.

Otherwise, the archdiocese would have had to wait for the proceeds from the sale of a 28-acre parcel that includes the mansion that housed Boston's cardinals. Plans for that sale were announced last week.

The loans will enable the archdiocese to begin paying settlements to 542 sex-abuse victims on Dec. 22 as scheduled, Coyne said.

"We have the money to pay off the survivors and their families," he said.

The archdiocese also has dipped into funds for retired clergy, as well as for cemeteries, to finance the settlement.

A $75 million bank loan is being secured by mortgaging St. John's Seminary, while a $15 million loan from the clergy retirement fund - which provides pensions and health care to retired priests - was secured by a mortgage on the cathedral and related properties. One-third of the loan is also being guaranteed by an individual, whom the church has declined to identify.

"While we had hoped to borrow the entire $90 million from the banks, that proved impossible because of our overall financial situation and our commitment not to pledge parish assets," Bishop Richard Lennon, the archdiocese's chief administrative officer, wrote in a letter to parish priests.

The archdiocese has also announced the sale of other properties expected to bring in more than $20 million, which would pay for the carrying costs of the loans, outreach and counseling for victims, abuse-prevention programs and any unsettled abuse cases.

These include a building that houses the Cardinal Cushing Resource Center and 12 acres that were owned by a now-closed Lawrence, Mass., parish.

The decision to mortgage the two properties was first reported in the Boston Herald on Saturday.

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