" A More Pressing Matter"
Diocese of San Diego Shelves Plans for New Catholic High School, Will Use Money Instead toward Sexual Abuse Settlement

California Catholic Daily
December 24, 2007

A 38-acre piece of land near Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside once set aside as the site for a new Catholic high school in northern San Diego County will be sold instead to help pay for the diocese's share of a $198 million settlement with victims of clergy sexual abuse reached in September.

The site had been earmarked for construction of Pax Christi High School, but plans for the new school have been postponed indefinitely, diocesan chancellor Rodrigo Valdivia told the North County Times. "It now looks like it will take much longer than many may have originally hoped," Valdivia said in an email response to inquiries by a reporter, according to the Dec. 18 Times story.

A diocesan committee decided in 2005 that the Mission San Luis Rey site was too far west, and planned instead to swap the land for a more suitable location, Valdivia told the Times. The land swap was part of a larger diocesan-wide plan that called for the construction of three diocesan high schools in San Diego County. Proceeds from the sale of two other school sites, University of San Diego High and Marian High, which the diocese closed, were to be divided among the three new schools.

The diocese has already sold the Marian and University high school sites, and has opened two new schools, Cathedral Catholic High and Mater Dei High. The two new schools are still slated to get their $25 million share of proceeds from the land sales, but plans for the third school, Pax Christi, remain uncertain. "Each of the three schools was to receive $25 million from the sale of the properties to offset the entire cost of land purchase, construction and furnishings," Valdivia told the newspaper. "Having to make the settlement payments does not allow us to do that now."

Instead, the estimated $90 million the diocese will receive from the land sales will be divided this way: $25 million each to the two recently opened schools, $40 million toward the sexual abuse settlement, nothing for Pax Christi high.

Valdivia told the Times that the diocese still wants to place a school some day in northern San Diego County, but that "addressing the settlement payments is, however, a more pressing matter."

The diocese is slated to make its first payout toward the settlements in January 2008, and its second and final payment in September 2008. The Diocese of San Diego's share of the $198 million settlement is about $153 million, covering 111 cases.


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