Church properties approved for sale to settle abuse claims, SNAP Responds
(For Immediate Release July 19, 2022)
The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador has approved the sale of 43 church-owned properties. This court approval, according to news reports, is aimed at helping to compensate victims for crimes committed against them by Catholic Clerics. In 2021, abuse claims and settlement figures mounted against the Diocese of St. John’s. As expected, the legal arm of the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation- St John’s filed for protection from creditors.
We are extremely concerned to learn in this report, supplied by the accounting firm handling the sale of the properties through the bankruptcy court, that the Catholic church, via several legal entities it formed, is buying up some of its own properties.
For us, this raises several questions:
First, if the church is bankrupt, where does it get the cash to in essence keep and maintain these properties? Is it actually bankrupt?
Second, is the sale price an arm's length transaction?
We can’t help but think since the church has found another source of cash, why aren’t those funds being applied to the settlement amounts, so that another bidder can buy the properties and thus generate even more funding to compensate victims?
We hope the judge handling this bankruptcy will review these real estate transactions carefully. So often, victims are retraumatized beyond just the sexual abuse; they get lied to when reporting, stiff-armed by bishops who claim to be pastoral but who are not, and shortchanged when they finally succeed in court.
CONTACT: Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager, (267-261-0578, [email protected]) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (517-974-9009, [email protected]) Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President, (814-341-8386, [email protected])
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)