In order to help pay for a $660 million settlement for the victims of molestation by Catholic priests, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles moved $115 million from the fund for cemetery maintenance, reported the Los Angeles Times.
The money in the cemetery fund comes from the families of those buried by the church or kept in church mausoleums — families who “have contributed to a dedicated account for the perpetual care of graves, crypts and grounds since the 1890s,” reported the LAT.
Those families were not notified that 88 percent of the fund was being used for the settlements, and the church did not mention the funding source in public statements.
The archdiocese told the paper in a statement that the decision did not effect cemetery operations, apparently since the fund will not be needed until after 2200, when the cemeteries are at full capacity. Presently, daily maintenance is paid for with separate cemetery sales revenue.
Mary Dispenza, who received a settlement in 2006 after being molested by her priest in the 1940s, criticized the decision by telling the LAT, “I think in a way they took it from people who had no voice: the dead. They can’t react, they can’t respond.”
The paper reported that it appeared to be legal. While California prohibits “private cemeteries from touching the principal of their perpetual care funds and bars them from using the interest on those funds for anything other than maintenance,” religious organizations are exempt from the law.
[Image: Our Lady Of The Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles on Shutterstock]