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The Catholic Church will have to sell off dozens of properties in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador in order to raise money to pay settlements for victims of child sex abuse. It’s the latest twist in a decades-old saga—and only a few of the buildings will likely remain Catholic churches under new ownership.

Hard to feel much sympathy for the Vatican, though, given how long they’ve dragged their feet over this matter.

The story in this case really began in the 1950s, at the Mount Cashel Orphanage. That institution was run by the Congregation of Christian Brothers, a Catholic order, and it soon became the site of rampant physical and sexual abuse. In 2020, a Canadian court found that the Archdiocese of St. John’s was legally and financially liable for that abuse, even though they didn’t directly employ the Christian Brothers, because they created an environment where that kind of abuse could thrive. The end result was that the archdiocese was on the hook for millions and millions of dollars in payout to survivors of the abuse.

How would they get all that cash? One way would be by liquidating their assets. Sell off buildings. Use the money to pay the victims. Back in April, controversy arose when one of those churches was slated to become a community gathering place. That sounded great in theory, but the people wanting to purchase the property would’ve likely paid a lower-than-market-value price for it, which would’ve meant less money going to victims.

But now the issue may be out of the Church’s hands entirely.

This week, the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador approved the sale of 43 properties owned by the Catholic Church—including 13 churches—in order to pay for victims’ sex abuse settlement claims.

Information about the sales came Monday as Ernst & Young, the court-appointed monitor, presented a report to the court about the sale-by-tender process which saw bids for the properties submitted in early June.

An order from the court in bankruptcy and insolvency proceedings posted on Ernst & Young’s website sheds light on who is buying the properties

The total combined value of 41 of the 42 properties is $20.6 million. St. Paul’s Parish was added to the list after the tabulation.

More than 70 additional properties will be put up for sale soon. All of this is intended to help the Church cover more than $50 million they owe to survivors of Mount Cashel. The end result will likely be a decimation of the Church’s presence in St. John’s.

It won’t be missed.

Given that the Catholic Church in Canada has, historically, acted like it doesn’t have the money to pay for the damage its caused, this is also a firm reminder that the Church has more than enough wealth to pay its victims. If they have to give up their land and buildings to make amends, so be it. Anything less means valuing property over human lives.

Hemant Mehta is the founder of FriendlyAtheist.com, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.