Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

Cathedral Basilica in Santa Fe to be mortgaged

A sculpture of Archbishop JB Lamy stands outside the Cathedral Basilica of Saint Francis in Santa Fe. In mid-June, Archbishop John C. Wester said the archdiocese would mortgage the cathedral in conjunction with a bankruptcy case related to compensating survivors of sexual abuse by clergy. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

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

The Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, known as the “mother church” of the archdiocese, and any other properties that are mortgaged will not be lost because parishes will chip in to cover the payments on the debt, Wester said in his June 17 letters.

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

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

Representatives for church clergy sex abuse survivors and the archdiocese announced in mid-May that they’d agreed to a $121.5 million fund to compensate hundreds of people who say they suffered childhood sexual abuse by priests and other clergy dating back to the 1990s.

Wester said the archdiocese is working to secure financing from two Catholic lenders — the Catholic Order of Foresters and 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 next March.

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

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