I stumbled across the latest issue of the National Catholic Reporter (ed. note- its an independent weekly established in 1964) with the front page headline: Catholic real estate bonanza: Firm touts ties with Vatican in bid for U.S. church property [NCR]. The article was about An Italian-owned Manhattan real estate development company claiming ties to high-ranking Vatican officials is bidding on properties owned by dozens of U.S. dioceses and religious orders.

Why is the Catholic church under contract to sell $100M in assets in three US cities and taking bids on $250M more?

  • Changing demographics – The church was experiencing a shift from North and East to West and South and from city to suburb.

  • Payouts from sexual abuse scandals – The church has paid off a $1B in lawsuits to date with more expected.

In Boston, the church has sold more than $200M in real estate since 2003 [Boston Globe].

Its not clear why the purchaser would announce the deal if they are still bidding on other properties with the church. The municipalities would benefit as these properties presumably would enter the tax roles as their ownership and use changes.

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