May 21, 2005

Diocese agrees to sell six churches

Boston Globe

By Michael Paulson and Ralph Ranalli, Globe Staff | May 21, 2005

The financially strapped Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has reached an $8.5 million settlement with the second of two insurance carriers and has reached agreements to sell property associated with six closing parishes for at least $10 million.

The insurance settlement and the property sales will help the archdiocese bring some order to its financial situation, which has been severely harmed by the clergy sexual abuse crisis. The archdiocese has closed 62 parishes since last summer, has cut 19 percent of its administrative staff since 2002, and is now contemplating reducing pension benefits for priests.

Archdiocesan officials declined to disclose the sale prices for the six properties yesterday, but according to property purchasers and public records, church officials agreed to sell the largest -- Blessed Sacrament church, school, rectory, and convent campus in Cambridge -- to a developer for at least $5.6 million. An official from a Jamaica Plain Pentecostal church said that the congregation had reached a $2.8 million purchase and sale agreement for the former St. Joseph Church, rectory, and hall in Hyde Park.

In Quincy, a group of private developers confirmed that they had reached an agreement with the archdiocese to buy the former Most Blessed Sacrament Parish rectory in Hough's Neck for $815,000. In Medford, Tufts University spent $1.1 million for the former Sacred Heart Church and its rectory, according to a record of the purchase filed with the county registry of deeds. Sale prices of the other two properties, in Lowell and Malden, were unavailable yesterday.

The archdiocese said the proceeds of the sales will be used to help finance archdiocesan operations and support remaining parishes, but will not be used to finance settlements with abuse victims.

The archdiocese is paying for the portion of the abuse settlements that is not covered by insurance with money from last year's $99 million sale to Boston College of a 43-acre portion of the archdiocesan headquarters in Brighton.

Posted by kshaw at May 21, 2005 02:01 AM