Supreme Court Grants Extension to Roman Catholic Church in St. John’s Sexual Abuse Settlement Decision
ST. JOHN’S, NL — The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador has approved the sale of the 150-year-old Mount St. Francis Monastery, located on Merrymeeting Road in St. John’s, by the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. of St. John’s.
The sale of the monastery, the details of which are sealed by a court order, is expected to be the first of many assets that may have to be sold by the company, which filed for creditor protection last month. Assets include St. John the Baptist Basilica in St. John’s and approximately $5.5 million raised in 2017 by St. Kevin’s Parish through the Chase the Ace fundraiser.
The money will be used to pay a significant number of creditors and whatever judgments may arise from legal actions the Archdiocese faces from victims of sexual abuse at the former Mount Cashel Orphanage.
Geoffrey Spencer, the lawyer representing the company, said he was contacted by lawyers representing more than 100 men, with claims expected to exceed $50 million, and was named co-defendant in a B.C. class action lawsuit. with 30 applicants. . Spencer said they have yet to assess the value of the claims, but the liability will be significant.
The bankruptcy case was before the courts for several reasons, including approving the sale of the monastery, sealing the details of the sale, setting a date for a hearing on the parish money of St. Kevin and a 45-day extension. ongoing creditor protection proceedings.
Spencer said the extension would give them more time to assess the value of assets and liabilities, and come up with a proposal to sell the properties at maximum value and create a claims process to ensure everyone is dealt with.
They anticipate that the sale of the assets will be staggered, he said, and give parishioners time to raise money to try to buy back some of the buildings.
“The parishioners here are the logical buyers of many of these properties, especially when it comes to churches,” he said. “This will be a phased approach, where properties in St. John’s will be processed first and then properties outside of the St. John’s area will be sold.”
Clifton Profit, an insolvency lawyer working as special counsel at Budden and Associates, which represents more than 70 men who were abused at Mount Cashel, said they did not object to the extension. Profit said its overall goal was to maximize asset value and establish a claims process.
“There is no doubt that the more than 100 or so current plaintiffs who are before this court will have claims which, in the greatest probability, will amount to approximately $50 million when the claims for loss of income are taken into account. “, did he declare. “Thus, it is the expectation, on behalf of the plaintiffs, that the entire valuable ownership of the company shall be realized.”
The court approved the extension until March 6, the sale of the monastery and the sealing of the details of the sale for commercial reasons.
The court also set a date for a hearing to determine the fate of the money raised by St. Kevin’s Parish in 2017 – whether it is a company asset to be divided among creditors or s it must be used for the intended fundraising purposes.
The hearing, which is expected to last half a day, has been set for February 28.