Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Two Aging Nuns Take On L.A. Catholic Head In Wrestling Contest Over Title, Possession, Control Over $15 Million, 8-Acre Mediterranean Villa-Style Hilltop Convent; Sisters Say Allowing Archdiocese To Sell Retreat To Pop Star "Violate[s] Our Canonical Vows To The Catholic Church!"

In Los Angeles, California, The New York Times reports:
  • Poverty, chastity, obedience — and they are still barring the door to Katy Perry.

    In a pair of legal filings on Friday, two nuns who object to Ms. Perry’s proposed purchase of their order’s convent on eight acres here disclosed an email describing any sale to the saucy pop singer as a breach of their sacred vows.

    “In selling to Katy Perry, we feel we are being forced to violate our canonical vows to the Catholic Church,” Sister Catherine Rose Holzman wrote to an official of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles on May 22, as competing deals for the property, valued at about $15 million, were being considered.

    Whether the Los Feliz-area Mediterranean villa and acreage go to Ms. Perry or to her rival, the developer Dana Hollister, may depend on a decision by Judge Robert H. O’Brien of Superior Court in Los Angeles County. Judge O’Brien is expected to consider arguments in a case filed against Ms. Hollister by José H. Gomez, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Los Angeles, at a hearing on July 30.

    Friday’s filings by Sister Catherine Rose, 86, and Sister Rita Callanan, 77, include a memorandum opposing the archbishop, and declarations peppered with intimate details about church dealings. They add heat to a dispute that is already complicated by a possible clash between canon and civil law, and the decision by the nuns to reveal their distaste for Ms. Perry in public interviews late last month.

    The court papers include claims by several of five surviving nuns in the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary that the archdiocese is betraying them and bullying them into supporting a sale other than their preferred transaction with Ms. Hollister.

    That deal would pay about $10 million for the convent, but with little cash up front, while giving the archdiocese more than $5 million to buy out its long-term lease on a retreat house for priests that also occupies the hillside plot on Waverly Drive. Under its terms, the nuns contend in their filings, they would directly control the proceeds, rather than having them administered by officials of the archdiocese.

    ***

    In a deposition last Monday, Ms. Hollister acknowledged that she had received a deed from the sisters in return for a $100,000 cash payment, more than half of which they used to cover a transfer tax, and a $9.9 million note. The note, she agreed, did not require her to start making $300,000 annually accruing interest payments until 2018. But she said she would honor oral commitments to begin paying sooner.

    In any case, Friday’s filings serve as a declaration of independence by women for whom a vow of obedience stops short of a sale to Ms. Perry.

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