The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, expecting a $6 million deficit this year, has put its 11-bedroom beachfront residence in Ventor, N.J., up for auction.
Villa St. Joseph by the Sea, built in 1905, has served as a vacation home for retired priests since 1963.
ldquo;We just can’t afford to maintain and hold assets like Villa St. Joseph by the Sea and my residence,” Archbishop Charles Chaput, the current leader of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, stated in the news release Monday. “Holding onto these properties at this time would be inconsistent with the mission of our church.”
Max Spann Real Estate and Auction Company is planning to auction the residence at 1 p.m. Sept. 15. The residence is featured on the company’s Web site as a 9,800-square-foot beachfront estate with 125 feet of ocean frontage. It offers “breathtaking views of the beach and ocean,” an elegant foyer and a “stunning staircase,” according to the Web site.
The vacation home became a point of in controversy in XX after The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, when he was archbishop, ordered $500,000 in renovations to the property while the archdiocese was closing schools and parishes.
In addition to selling the villa, the archdiocese said it would sell its 20,000- square-foot Holy Family Center on 227 N. 18th St., part of a parking lot at 17th and Vine streets, and the Mary Immaculate Center, a spiritual retreat center, in Northampton Township.
No money is owed on the properties, said Donna Farrell, the archdiocese’s director of communication.
The archdiocese expects a $6 million deficit in its current fiscal year, which began in July. That figure doesn’t count any “extraordinary costs” such as money spent on the investigation of priests that Chaput’s predecessor, Cardinal Justin Rigali, put on leave because of sexual misconduct allegations. Earlier this year, Chaput said the archdiocese had spent $11.6 million up to this March on those probes, lawsuits, and investigating a $900,000 embezzlement.
Farrell said the archdiocese is not projecting how much money the properties will bring in.
“We do hope that the sales assist with the cash flow issues caused by deficits,” Farrell stated in an e-mail to the Northeast Times.Any sales of archdiocesan assets valued at more than $7.5 million must be approved by the Vatican, she said. ••