Diocese Selling Stake in Newspaper

By Nancy King
Cape Breton Post
September 27, 2010

The Reporter, a weekly newspaper in Port Hawkesbury, published a letter to the editor this week from three residents of Antigonish County, calling upon parishes to put pressure on the diocese to immediately place its stake in Casket Printing and Publishing up for sale.

The letter, signed by Jean Collins, Marion MacNeil and Ben Druhan, notes that parishes have had to turn over money to the diocese and are now in the process of selling off all assets other than churches and occupied glebe houses, a process they described as heart-wrenching.

The letter also notes that the board of directors of The Casket recently purchased an adjacent building.

"We are horrified by this decision," they wrote. "We're selling off all our assets and they're buying more? It may make sense from a business point of view, but did no one consider the psychological impact of this purchase on us, the people in the diocese?"

Diocese spokesperson Rev. Paul Abbass said Friday he couldn't speak to any decision made by The Casket board of directors he's not a member but noted the diocese's 60 per cent share in the company will go up for sale, along with all other non-core diocese assets.

"It will be sold," Abbass said.

He called it a significant asset for the diocese, and said it will take some time to perform its due diligence and assess the value of its stake in the business.

One of the letter writers, Ben Druhan wasn't satisfied with that explanation. He said the diocese should sell its share of The Casket at the outset of the process.

"One of our main points in writing this letter is that the diocese should take some leadership and sell this first of all ... the parishes are all being asked to make sacrifices and we're all giving up land and bank accounts and we feel it would be only right that the diocese show some leadership," he said.

The diocese is adding to the property and assets that are up for sale almost weekly, Abbass said. The goal is to raise $18 million for the settlement of a class-action lawsuit with the alleged victims of sexual abuse from the 1950s to 2009. About $6 million has already been raised through parish funds.


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