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Church To Sell Convents to Pay Off Sex Abuse Settlement

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles is evicting nuns from their convents in order to sell the buildings to help pay off a $660 million settlement with victims of pedophile priests. The archdiocese announced that it will sell up to 50 non-parish properties, including their headquarters, the Los Angeles Times reports.

A convent in Santa Barbara is the first property, after the headquarters, that church officials have publicly said they will sell. Three nuns of the Sisters of Bethany order that live there have until Dec. 31 to move out. “We’re just so hurt by this,” said the order’s local superior, Sister Angela Escalera, who has lived in the convent for 43 years. “And what hurts the most is what the money will be used for, to help pay for the pedophile priests. We have to sacrifice our home for that?” The local community has rallied around the sisters, raising funds to buy them a new home in the low-income neighborhood they have served for over half a century.

“The pain is being spread around…This is just part of making it right with the victims, and we all have to share in the process even though none of us, the nuns, myself, harmed anybody,” said Tod M. Tamberg, a spokesperson for the archdiocese A former Bethany sister, Evangelina Diaz, pointed out that priests in Santa Barbara live in “fabulous-looking” houses in neighborhoods where, the Washington Post reports, homes go for $2 million. “You don’t see them getting kicked out,” she said.

The $660 million settlement, announced in July, is the largest yet in the nationwide sex abuse scandal that has plagued the Roman Catholic Church in recent years.

Sources:

LA Times 9/7/07; Washington Post 10/4/07; KSBY News 10/4/07; Associated Press 9/14/07; Feminist News Wire 7/16/07