The Archdiocese of New York wants to mortgage a prized piece of property behind St. Patrick’s Cathedral to obtain $100 million to pay off victims of priestly sex abuse who agree not to take their cases to court.
The filing in Manhattan Supreme Court says JP Morgan Chase has agreed to loan the money against the archdiocese’s ownership of land beneath the luxury Lotte Palace Hotel on Madison Avenue between 50th and 51st streets.
Although the court filing doesn’t say why the church needs the dough, a spokesman confirmed it was part of a plan announced by Cardinal Timothy Dolan last year to strike out-of-court settlements with people who were abused by priests and deacons.
“When he introduced the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, the archdiocese planned to take a loan to cover the cost of the compensation. This loan is to do that,” archdiocese spokesman Joe Zwilling said.
Under Dolan’s plan, sex-abuse victims can get paid off by the church in exchange for agreeing not to purse legal action that would reveal the sordid details of their cases.
Dolan has said that most of abuse took place “25, 30, 35, 40 years ago,” and that all of the evidence had been “thoroughly investigated” and “turned over to the police.”
The archidocese set a Jan. 31 application deadline for people who had already made claims against the church, with others eligible to apply afterward.
As a nonprofit organization, the archdiocese cannot use its assets to secure the loan without a judge’s approval.
The cost of the Chase mortgage isn’t specified, but court papers say the terms call for it to last for 364 days, with payments required monthly.
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