Mortgaging the Cathedral of Santa Fe was only an option

SANTA FE, NM (AP) — Archbishop John C. Wester speaks about the decision to mortgage an iconic Santa Fe cathedral to fulfill a settlement agreement related to victims of sexual abuse in the church.

The action was a last resort because “we pretty much sold everything we could, including my residence,” Wester told the Santa Fe New Mexican on Thursday.

The archbishop sent letters to parishes last month informing them that they would collectively need to borrow $12 million to pay for settlements. It was then that he announced the news from the cathedral. The archdiocese is to contribute $65 million by September 30 and a final $10 million by March 31 next year, Wester wrote.

Still, the decision to use the Cathedral Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi, the heart of the diocese, shocked many Catholics in New Mexico. Wester believes love for the cathedral was actually a factor in accepting the property as collateral.

“I’m not a lender, but I imagine they would see that as a good thing because obviously the archdiocese is going to do everything in their power to pay off our debt,” Wester said.


The Archdiocese of Santa Fe filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to seek creditor protection in 2018 as sexual abuse claims rose.

The chairman of a creditors’ committee negotiated an agreement on behalf of the surviving victims and an interim agreement was reached in May.

It totals $121.5 million and concerns approximately 375 claimants.

It also includes a non-monetary agreement with the archdiocese to create a public archive of documents regarding the history of sexual abuse allegations.

In New Mexico, some 74 priests were found to be “credibly accused” of sexually abusing children while assigned to parishes and schools by the archdiocese, which covers central and northern Mexico. New Mexico.

Established in the 1850s after the Mexican-American War, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe is one of the oldest in the country. Wester has been its archbishop since 2015.

Although building the cathedral was a difficult decision, Wester said it was ultimately the right one.

“If you think about it, by mortgaging the cathedral, we’ll have fewer churches, if any, that we have to mortgage, so it’s mostly a practical thing,” he said.

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