The Archdiocese of Los Angeles announced the sale of a convent in Santa Barbara as part of its effort to pay its share of the $660-million settlement reached with victims of sex abuse by priests.
The convent has been the home of the Sisters of Bethany and was built for the congregation in 1952. Unlike most religious houses, the convent is owned by the archdiocese, which it has been renting out to the sisters for free. The sisters pay for utilities and upkeep.
The three sisters who live at the house have been working with the poor and undocumented immigrants on Santa Barbara’s east side. They received a letter from the vicar general at the end of August, stating that they had to vacate the house by Dec. 31
One of the sisters, named Sr. Angela, said she had hoped the archdiocese would have communicated the decision in a more personal way, with a telephone call, for example. She told the Los Angeles Times that she was also pained by the fact that the money for the sale would be used to make up for “the pedophile priests.”
Archdiocese spokesperson Tod Tamberg told the Times the sale of the house, though difficult, was necessary. He pointed out that the chancery office was being sold and employees have a pay freeze this year.
"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 … harmed anybody. All of us as a church have to pay for the sins of a few people," he was quoted as saying.
Unable to afford a rental in Santa Barbara, the sisters will move to their congregation’s house in Los Angeles.
The convent is assessed at $97,746, but other houses in the neighborhood have been marked for sale at $700,000.
Cardinal Roger Mahony has said he will not sell any parish properties for the settlement.