Sale of rural church properties in Archdiocese of St. John's to begin soon, archbishop says

Archbishop Peter Hundt is pictured here arriving at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic church in Mount Carmel in September. In a statement posted online Sunday, Hundt said the sale of more church properties will soon begin. (Ted Dillon/CBC - image credit)
Archbishop Peter Hundt is pictured here arriving at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic church in Mount Carmel in September. In a statement posted online Sunday, Hundt said the sale of more church properties will soon begin. (Ted Dillon/CBC - image credit)

The Archbishop of St. John's says the process of selling off church properties in the St. John's area is almost complete and the rural areas of the archdiocese will soon begin the same process.

In a message read during weekend masses and posted on parish websites, Peter Hundt said it has nearly been a year since the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John's entered into creditor protection proceedings.

Hundt said all church buildings in the St. John's area have been put up for sale in that time, either through tenders or real estate listings.

In 2019, the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal ruled that the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John's, the archdiocese's secular arm, is vicariously liable for sexual abuse at Mount Cashel Orphanage in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

About 70 properties next to be sold

That's forced the archdiocese to liquidate its properties to compensate survivors of sexual abuse at the orphanage, which could cost as much as $50 million.

About 70 properties in the rural areas of the archdiocese, which includes the southern Avalon Peninsula and the Burin Peninsula, are now next to be sold.

Terry Roberts/CBC
Terry Roberts/CBC

Hundt's message said the archdiocese's lawyers have worked with a court-appointed monitor and representative counsel for the claimants to finalize a call-for-claims process.

"This process invites anyone who has a claim against the archdiocese to present it," he said.

"Through this process, we will confirm the number and value of claims that must be addressed by the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John's."

Amalgamations proceeding

With sales of church properties around St. John's nearly finished, Hundt said amalgamations of the remaining parishes are going well and a new corporate structure is being developed that's expected to be implemented as of Jan. 1, 2023.

"I hope that by this time next year, the claims process will be complete, and the victims of abuse and their families will have received from it a measure of healing and peace. Likewise, I hope that by then the Archdiocese will have completed our restructuring process and all parishioners will be feeling settled at home in their amalgamated parish communities," Hundt's message read.

"However, in the meantime, there is still much to be done and many challenges and emotions to be faced and accepted."

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