Antigonish borrows to pay abuse victims

Diocese of Antigonish-Coat of Arms

January 30, 2012

ANTIGONISH, N.S. – The Diocese of Antigonish had to tap into $2 million of bridge financing to make its second payment towards a class action suit settlement for victims of sexual abuse.

The $4.2 million instalment had to be made by Nov. 1.

Prior to making that payment last fall, the diocese's financial and legal advisory committee said monies would have to be acquired in that manner to meet the deadline.

In an agreement brokered nearly two years ago by victims and the diocese, a timeline was set for the distribution of the multi-million dollar settlement.

The diocese made its first payment ($3.6 million) May 31. The third and final instalment carries a $4.2 million price tag.

The diocese accumulated funding for the first two instalments from parish monies and the sale of some of the diocese's non-core assets, which include parish and diocesan properties not currently in use as worship spaces or as residences for priests.

"Sales are going on all the time. That's an ongoing process," Father Paul Abbass, vicar general, said Jan. 16.

He said more property has been sold since the second instalment payment.

One of the assets up for sale is the diocese's 62 per cent stake in the Casket Printing and Publishing, which includes community newspapers and commercial printing businesses.

The diocese still owes the Sisters of Saint Martha for a $1-million loan provided in late 2009.

The money from the Marthas was placed in an operational contingency fund for the diocese and for emergency needs that may arise in parishes within the next few years, according to the congregation.

According to a Jan. 13 Halifax Chronicle Herald story, lawsuit claimants will only receive 62 per cent of the settlement amount – not including legal expenses – they originally anticipated.

Abbass said the anticipated amount paid for each individual settlement had decreased because of an increase in the number of claimants.