December 4, BOSTON -- The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has put the archbishop's mansion -- one of the symbols of its prosperity -- on the market to help pay for an $85 million settlement with victims of clergy sex abuse, a church official said.

The church will sell the opulent mansion on its Brighton grounds as well as more than 27 acres of surrounding land, according to the Rev. Christopher Coyne, a church spokesman. The sale does not include the chancery, which houses archdiocesan offices, or St. John's Seminary. The stately three-story mansion built in the 1920s has been used as a residence by the last four archbishops, but new Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley announced shortly after his installation in July that he would not live in the building. O'Malley moved to a South End apartment behind the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. The mansion and land was recently assessed at nearly $14 million, but real estate experts say the land could fetch up to $20 million. The sale of the residence helps fulfill O'Malley's promise that no collection plate money will be used to pay for the record settlement. Instead, O'Malley presented a plan to the archdiocesan Finance Council on Wednesday in which the church would take out short-term loans to fund the settlement and then pay back the lenders with proceeds from the sale of the Brighton property and insurance money.
Boston College, a Jesuit university located across the street from the chancery, would be interested in purchasing the property, spokesman Jack Dunn said. Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned last December after a barrage of criticism over his handling of clergy sex abuse, came under fire for living in the residence even as the archdiocese said it could not afford to settle the 552 civil lawsuits filed by people who said they were abused by priests. "I think it's really a good move by the archbishop," said Roderick MacLeish Jr., a lawyer for hundreds of abuse victims. "When Cardinal Law was there, he was living in a beautiful residence while so many people were suffering," MacLeish said. When O'Malley announced he was moving to the South End, the mansion became "superfluous," said Thomas O'Connor, a church historian and Boston College professor. The church owns a total of about 60 acres of land in the area.

"The seminary area is essential to the future of the archdiocese, but the residential building is not necessary to the functioning of the church," he said. Still, "It's a sad thing, it's an embarrassing thing, to sell it off to pay this settlement."

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