Diocese of Santa Fe Nearing Bankruptcy Reorganization Settlement
Posted on: March 31, 2021 Catholic Church Sexual Abuse
In 2018, Archbishop of Santa Fe John C. Wester announced that the Archdiocese would seek bankruptcy protection amidst the growing number of sexual abuse lawsuits. Nearly 3 years later, the committee set up to represent the survivors, along with the Archdiocese, have reached a confidential settlement.
Between 2013 and 2014 the Archdiocese incorporated most of its parishes as non-profits. Many saw this as another legal strategy aimed at shielding assets to limit payouts to victims of clergy sexual abuse. A similar tactic was reported in late 2020 after lawyers for clergy sex abuse victims in Buffalo argued that the Diocese was attempting to sell off properties for a fraction of what they were actually worth.
After the Santa Fe bankruptcy filing in 2018, settlement talks stalled out in 2019, as lawyers for sexual abuse survivors argued that the Archdiocese fraudulently transferred real estate to its parishes in an attempt to avoid selling these assets during the bankruptcy reorganization. A judge later ruled against the Archdiocese allowing lawyers for the clergy sex abuse survivors to file lawsuits against the Archdiocese claiming it transferred an estimated $150 million to avoid paying it to survivors.
The new agreement ensures that the Santa Fe Archdiocese is forced to sell any piece of real estate that is not deemed ‘essential to the archdiocese mission.’ According to the Archdiocese Vicar General Father Glenn Jones,
“Basically, every piece of property the Archdiocese of Santa Fe corporation proper owns is ‘on the block’.”
Properties currently for sale could generate over $10 million for sexual abuse survivors. Those real estate holdings include the four-bedroom, tri-level house of the Archbishop, John C. Wester, listed for $425,000, the 12-acre Immaculate Heart of Mary Retreat Center, tentatively being sold for $6.4 million, and the old Cathedral School in Santa Fe, listed at $3.6 million. Additional assets may also be added to the ‘for sale’ list and could include the St. Pius X High School in Albuquerque, the Madonna Retreat Center, Lourdes Hall and St. Clare Hall.
In addition to the sale of real estate assets, it has been reported that parishes throughout the diocese, 93 in total, are expected to each pitch in several hundred thousand dollars (on average) to help compensate the nearly 400 victims that have filed against the Archdiocese in the pending bankruptcy case.
The entire article can be viewed here.
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