Courts OK Sale of Churches to Compensate Abuse Victims

Newfoundland archdiocese is liable for decades of abuse at Mt. Cashel orphanages
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2022 6:15 PM CDT
Courts OK Sale of Churches to Compensate Abuse Victims
Two torchbearers hold the Olympic flame outside the Basilica Cathedral in St. John's, Newfoundland, in 2009. The sale of the cathedral has been approved.   (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jonathan Hayward)

(Newser) – Canadian courts have approved the sale of 43 Catholic Church properties to raise money to pay victims who were abused decades ago at the Mount Cashel orphanage. The Newfoundland archdiocese's parcels include 13 churches, the CBC reports. It's not clear what will become of many of the properties changing hands; St. John's Archbishop Peter Hundt told Catholics on Sunday that only a few will remain in use as churches. The 167-year-old Basilica of St. John the Baptist was bought by a nonprofit that said it will stay a house of worship, per the Canadian Press. The Basilica Heritage Foundation also said it will preserve St. Bonaventure's College.

The sale is expected to bring in more than $20 million. A court-appointed monitor says a strategy is being drawn up for the sale of another 70 properties, including churches, halls, and rectories. The St. John's archdiocese, which covers the province of Newfoundland and Labrador, is expected to face claims totaling around $40 million from survivors of abuse at Mount Cashel, as well as those abused by parish priests. In 1989, an inquiry found that hundreds of boys had been physically and sexually abused at the orphanage over several decades—and the abuse had been ignored or covered up in the 1970s by police, social services, and government officials, as well as church authorities.

The inquiry "laid bare a stunning, collective failure of the judicial, police, religious, media, and social service establishments to protect the interests of hopelessly vulnerable and cruelly abused children," the Sunday Express wrote at the time. Last year, a decades-long court battle ended when Canada's Supreme Court rejected an appeal from the archdiocese, leaving in place a ruling that found it liable for the abuse. (Read more Catholic Church stories.)

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