Cathedral Basilica in Santa Fe to be mortgaged

A sculpture by Archbishop JB Lamy stands in front of the Cathedral of Saint Francis in Santa Fe. In mid-June, Archbishop John C. Wester said the archdiocese would mortgage the cathedral in connection with bankruptcy proceedings related to compensation for clergy sex abuse survivors. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

Archbishop John C. Wester said in a recent letter to parishes that Santa Fe Archdiocese’s most iconic building will be mortgaged to cover settlements for victims of clergy sex abuse.

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, known as the archdiocese’s “mother church,” and all other mortgaged properties will not be lost as the congregations will help cover the debt, Wester said in his June 17 letter.

According to the letter, the parishes will need to borrow up to $12 million in total to fill the gap in the archdiocese’s $75 million share of the bankruptcy settlement. The archdiocese is asking each parish to pay up to $691 a month for the debt, or up to $104,727 total.

“I am pleased with the broad support we have from our priests for working together to end bankruptcy proceedings, compensate victims, allow us to move forward and rebuild as a church,” Wester wrote in the letter.

Representatives of victims of clerical sexual abuse and the archdiocese announced in mid-May that they had approved a $121.5 million fund to compensate hundreds of people who allege childhood sexual abuse by priests and other clergy to have suffered, which goes back to the 1990s.

Wester said the archdiocese is working to secure funding from two Catholic lenders — the Catholic Order of Foresters and the Notre Dame Federal Credit Union.

The Archdiocese must pay $65 million by the end of September and the remaining $10 million by the end of March.

The archdiocese did not respond to requests for comment late Friday afternoon.

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