Canada Court Approves Sale of Catholic Church Properties for Sex Abuse Settlements

A Canadian court has approved the sale of 42 Catholic Church properties to pay victims who endured sexual and physical abuse at an orphanage.

The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador approved the sale of 43 properties belonging to the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John’s, including 13 churches.

The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador also sold the 167-year-old Basilica of St. John the Baptist to the Basilica Heritage Foundation, a non-profit organization that has vowed to preserve the building as a place of worship.

The Catholic church had previously been held responsible for the abuse of boys aged 8 to 17 in the Mount Cashel Orphanage in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, which also served as a foster home for the wards.

The Irish Christian Brothers, a Roman Catholic lay order, ran the Mount Cashel Orphanage, where the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary opened an investigation in 1975 into allegations of child abuse.

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary re-opened the case in 1989 when the provincial government established a royal commission.

Samuel Hughes, a retired Ontario Supreme Court Judge, headed the royal commission to investigate what happened.

“Over the following months, the public learned that the foster home had for decades been the site of repeated acts of physical and sexual abuse performed by Christian Brothers against boys who lived there as wards of the state. It also learned that police, government, and religious authorities were aware of the abuse, but took little action, despite complaints from residents and confessions from two of the brothers. Local newspapers ignored or downplayed the allegations,” Heritage Newfoundland and Labrador said on its website.

The Christian Brothers formally apologized to the victims in 1992 and paid $16 million in compensation.

Archbishop Peter Hundt said they would sell 70 more properties to compensate the orphanage victims.


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