July 30th, 2012
At some point in the last century, the Catholic Church came up with an idea: since priests are scarce, rather than toss out those who molest children, why not refurbish them (and their reputation) instead and send them to a new place where no one knew about their pedophile tendencies. And if a few more kids get raped (or a few hundred thousand), well at least they didn’t lose any priests.
Towards that effort, in 1973 Worcester, MA, priest Rev. Thomas A. Kane opened House of Affirmation at Oakhurst, a beautiful old mansion. As he had already been molesting a boy for five years, Kane was an ideal choice to head up the treatment of pedophile priests. And it gave Kane a convenient place to rape the kid and share him with other priests. Win-win (except, of course, for his victim).
But unfortunately for the diocese, Kane also committed a sin which the Church takes far more seriously and for which reconciliation is not offered: he engaged in financial improprieties with the Church’s money. And so, in 1990, Pedophile Mansion was closed and the Church (without the slightest hint of irony) reassigned the space to the Office for Youth Ministry.
Well now the Church has a need to get some ready cash; those busy-body courts keep awarding the victims of the pedophile priests with settlements. And there are only so many nunneries to empty or social services they can cut so now they have to look at the disagreeable task of selling mansions. And beautiful old Pedophile Mansion was put on the market.
James Fairbanks and Alain Beret were interested. The two had refurbished rundown grand spaces before and wanted to turn the mansion into a beautiful banquet facility. And as they had the support of various planning committees – who were delighted that the building would be restored rather than razed – they put in an offer and a $75,000 deposit.
But then there was a hickup. It was determined that a $240,000 sprinkler system would need to be installed.
And at that point, the Church decided to pull a fast one. Rather than renegotiate revisions to the standing contract, the Church’s broker suggested a new offer – one for only a portion of the 24 acres. And when Fairbanks and Beret retracted their previous offer and submitted the suggested smaller bid, the Church declined the offer, thus leaving them without a legal contract.
They had decided to pursue “other plans” for the property.
But as their intent had been to raise funds and divest the diocese of the costly overhead of maintaining the building, it seemed odd that the Church would make this move. Why could it be?
The “why” of their decision is shocking, but not surprising. At some point in the process the Church discovered that Fairbanks and Beret are not only gay but a legally married couple. And Worcester diocese of the Roman Catholic Church did not want to sell property to a gay couple.
Now it may seem extreme to speculate on something like that. And, of course, the church gave entirely different reasons. (Worcester Telegram)
This week, Monsignor Thomas Sullivan, who oversees the sale of diocesan property, told me the deal fell through because of financing.
“They couldn’t come up with the money,” he said. “This happens all the time.”
I told him the potential buyers believed that he rejected the deal because of their sexual orientation, or the prospect of gay marriages someday being performed at Oakhurst. Was that an issue?
“No, it wasn’t,” Msgr. Sullivan said. “It was an issue of them not having the financing. That was all.”
But, as it turns out, it’s really not a matter of guesswork or differing perspectives. The Church was kind enough to put in words exactly the reasons for their chicanery and bigotry and their agent was stupid enough to include it in an email chain to Beret. And – as seems to be the chief role of Catholic hierarchy – Monsignor Sullivan was lying:
I just went down the hall and discussed it with the bishop. Because of the potentiality of gay marriages there, something you shared with us yesterday, we are not interested in going forward with these buyers. I think they’re shaky anyway. So, just tell them that we will not accept their revised plan and the Diocese is making new plans for the property. You find the language.
No no no no no no no. Not gay marriage. Pedophile Mansion is perfectly fine for molesting children in, but not gay marriage.
Of course, no matter who owned the building, if it was refurbished to be a banquet facility then it could not deny gay couples the same wedding services it offered to opposite-sex couples. But amongst anti-gays these days, the existence of a gay person raises the immediate threat of a gay marriage and then their brain shuts down (… click). There is exactly zero chance that the Church had any reason for denying the sale other than that the purchasers were gay (GAY? But Gay Marriage!!!… click)
The diocese is soon going to discover something fascinating. It’s illegal in the state of Massachusetts to discriminate in the conduct of business. You can’t refuse to sell to customers simply because they happen to be gay. You can’t even refuse to sell to customers because you fear that the gay customers might use what you’re selling in some way that involves gay marriage (…click). And if you are so amazingly stupid as to document your bigotry and then lie to a reporter about it… well, it’s not going to go over well either in the news or in a courtroom.
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