Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi to be mortgaged to help pay settlements to sex abuse victims

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Jun. 25—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 letter.

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 take on a portion of that debt.

"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 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 the 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.

Editor's note: An earlier version of this story included incorrect amounts for how much each parish would have to pay toward the archdiocese's debt. The story has been updated.