The Church's Legal Tab: $11.6 Million in 2011-2012

By Ralph Cipriano
Philadelphia Priest Abuse Trial Blog
June 5, 2012

Every day for the past ten weeks, Msgr. William J. Lynn has been accompanied to trial by four full-time defense lawyers. A conservative estimate is that the archdiocese is spending $75,000 a week on those four defense lawyers, or $750,000 for the past ten weeks of trial.

But the costs of the archdiocese's legal bill is much higher than that. In the archdiocese's new financial report issued this month, it was disclosed that the church has spent $11.6 million in response to the 2011 grand jury investigation of the archdiocese.

In a letter to parishioners that accompanied the new financial report, Archbishop Charles Chaput said the church spent $1.6 million in the 2011 fiscal year, and another $10 million over nine months of the 2012 fiscal year that ended March 31.

"Following the grand jury report, nine separate civil lawsuits were filed in Philadelphia County against the Archdiocese and certain individual defendants based on alleged clergy sexual abuse of minors," Chaput wrote. "As fiscal 2011 closed, the Archdiocese learned that its former CEO had embezzled nearly $1 million over a period of years."

"The cost of responding to the grand jury report, the investigations related to priests on administrative leave, the subsequent criminal and legal proceedings, and the investigation into the embezzlement have been heavy," Chaput wrote. "The expense is funded solely by an entity known as our Office of Financial Services [OFS] which represents the central administrative functions of the Archdiocese."

"The resources to pay for these costs have not -- and will not -- come from contributions to the Catholic Charities Appeal [CCA] or Heritage of Faith-Vision of Hope [HOF-VOH]," Chaput wrote. "Rather, they are being funded through cash and investment reserves, cash proceeds generated from the sale of excess real estate holdings or other assets owned by the Archdiocese itself."

The archbishop recently announced that he was putting the former Main Line mansion on sale that was once the private residence of Cardinal Bevilacqua and Cardinal Krol.

The archdiocese public relations office declined comment, asserting that they were under the gag order imposed by Judge M. Teresa Sarmina on lawyers in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia sex abuse case. Uh, OK, that makes sense.

Wonder how Catholics will react to this news?


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