A Canadian court has approved the sale of 43 Catholic Church properties as part of a financial settlement with victims of sex abuse, with more sales expected to come later.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s, based in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, will sell the properties, including 13 church properties, after the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador approved the measure.
The archdiocese directed The Christian Post to a report by Ernst & Young, a law firm that served as a court-appointed monitor for selling the properties.
In its second report, the monitor noted that there were “42 sub-parcel sales” of the properties to various entities, including the Basilica Heritage Foundation Inc., Rocky Hill Holdings Inc. and Emerald Atlantic Group Inc.
Nineteen of the properties were listed as “vacant land,” with one going to the Nature Conservatory of Canada, while another went to St. John’s Independent School Inc.
Notable properties on the list included the Basilica Cathedral and Pastoral Centre, St. Bonaventure's College and St. Bon's Forum, which will be historically preserved.
Archbishop Peter Hundt explained in an open letter Saturday to the members of the archdiocese that the 42 “parcel sales” included “the sale of 12 of our parish churches.”
“Only a few of these proposed church sales are to buyers intending to have the building continue to be used as a Catholic church,” wrote Hundt.
Hundt also noted that the court-appointed monitor’s report was a “proposed strategy” to sell 19 properties that did not get “acceptable bids,” as well as the sale of 70 other properties located in Burin and Southern Avalon.
“Included in this list of properties are all the remaining parish churches, halls and rectories,” he continued. “This sale of churches and the corresponding amalgamation of parishes is a distressing and emotional process for all the people and clergy of the archdiocese.”
“I am extremely grateful to all the clergy and parishioners, who are working hard to move forward this process by which we are seeking to meet our legal obligations to the victims of abuse and restructure our diocese in a positive and sustainable manner.”
Hundt concluded by asking the people of his archdiocese to pray “for God’s healing grace for the victims of abuse and for the gifts of understanding, wisdom and patience for all of us as we continue to journey through this time of restructuring and change.”
A 43rd property, St. Paul's Parish, was later added to the initial total of 42 properties, according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.