Church Used Cemetery Money to Pay for Sex Abuse Cases Without Telling Families
Cardinal Roger M. Mahony allegedly redirected $115 million from cemetery maintenance to pay off child sex molestation victims.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the Archdiocese of L.A. decided to make this transfer of funds in 2007 without informing the relatives of the deceased who contributed to it in the first place.
With a $660 million sex abuse bill to cover and little in the way of other options, the church made the decision to do this sans so much as a mention in any of their public statements. The relatives of the deceased who contributed money for “the perpetual care of graves, crypts and grounds since the 1890s” were not informed of the fact that 88 percent of the fund they donated to was being used for something far more unseemly.
When reached for a statement by the Los Angeles Times, Mahony acknowledged that the cemetery account was used to pay off the sex abuse claims. However, he also maintained that “the appropriation had ‘no effect’ on cemetery upkeep."
As distasteful as the idea of using cemetery upkeep cash to pay off molestation victims is, it is also important to note that what the church did is not illegal. While private cemeteries are prohibited from using their care funds on anything other than maintenance, religious organizations are not obligated to follow those rules.
In a 2012 financial report, the church stated: "Management plans to repay these appropriated funds from future cemetery sales ... after all liabilities associated with the lawsuits ... are paid off"
When will all the liabilities actually be paid off? That’s pretty much anyone’s guess at this point.
A child sex abuse victim who received some of the church’s redirected money, Mary Dispenza, also had relatives who were buried at the Calvary Cemetery in East L.A.
"I think it's very deceptive," she told the Los Angeles Times of the way the appropriation was handled. "And I think in a way they took it from people who had no voice: the dead. They can't react, they can't respond."