From churches to crucifixes, Archdiocese of New Orleans spells out assets in latest bankruptcy filing

Times-Picayune and New Orleans Advocate

May 23, 2020

By John Simerman and Jerry DiColo

New records released by the Archdiocese of New Orleans in its bankruptcy case offer the fullest accounting yet of the church’s financial house, and a peek inside how Archbishop Gregory Aymond and other church brass were managing it leading up to the May Day filing.

In nearly 2,000 pages of disclosures filed into the federal court record before a deadline late Friday, the archdiocese details $243 million in claimed assets and $139 million in claimed liabilities.

The church is far from underwater, the documents suggest, though what that means for those with claims against the archdiocese could take years to unravel.

The documents offer exacting detail in some areas but are also missing some key numbers. The value for a sprawling array of church properties is listed as “undetermined,” for instance, and there are no updated estimates of what dozens of sexual abuse claims could cost the local church.

The largest claimant, Hancock Whitney Bank, is listed as being owed $37 million in state facilities bonds that helped the local Catholic Church rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, plus at least $10 million in debt guarantees made by the archdiocese for the St. Anthony’s Gardens project, the documents show.

The Covington senior living complex appears to have been a financial sinkhole for the archdiocese. It has been cited, on top of mounting sexual abuse claims that now number in the dozens, in recent downgrades of the church’s bond ratings by credit agencies.

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