LOS ANGELES — The Archdiocese of Los Angeles praised a judge’s rulings that remove legal hurdles singer Katy Perry faced in her attempt to buy a former convent in Los Feliz from the Archdiocese, saying the religious body’s primary concern was always with the welfare of the nuns who once lived there.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephanie Bowick issued her rulings March 14. Sisters Rita Callanan and Catherine Rose Holzman maintained they had authority to sell the Waverly Drive property to businesswoman Dana Hollister in 2015. Rose and Callahan are among five members of the California Institute of the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary and are the only members who oppose the sale of their former home to Perry.
The archdiocese said the archbishop’s approval was required before the former convent could be sold. Lawyers for the archdiocese and Perry’s company, The Bird Nest LLC, filed separate motions asking that the singer be allowed to purchase the property without the case having to be decided by a jury.
“The main concern of the archdiocese is and has always been the care and well-being of all the IHM Sisters,” the archdiocese said in a statement released March 15. “In 2014, the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters agreed to have the archdiocese sell their former convent on their behalf.”
The property had been vacant since 2011 because it became too costly for the retired sisters to maintain and no longer accommodated their physical needs and the proceeds from any sale of the property would go to the IHM Institute, according to the statement.
“Regardless of any sale, the archdiocese has pledged to take care of the sisters for the rest of their lives,” the statement read.
In her ruling, the judge agreed with lawyers for the archdiocese that the two nuns’ sale of the property was improper.
“The court finds that the sisters did not have the authority to sell the property to Hollister,” Bowick wrote. “The pope did not consent to the sale of the property to Hollister and there was no written approval from the Holy See or the archbishop.”
Even assuming that the nuns had authority to sell the property, they nevertheless “failed to validly consummate the transaction,” Bowick wrote.
In April 2016, Bowick issued a ruling that appeared to cancel the convent’s sale to Hollister and make it possible for Perry, now 32, to acquire the property. However, the nuns sought a ruling from the 2nd District Court of Appeal directing Bowick to reverse those orders.
In September, the appellate court chose not to reverse Bowick. But the judge did set aside her earlier rulings to allow additional fact-finding by lawyers for Hollister and the nuns in the wake of the announced intentions by lawyers for the archdiocese and Bird Nest to file motions aimed at once again enabling the sale to Perry.
The proposed sale to Perry would be for $14.5 million, consisting of $10 million in cash and an agreement to provide an alternative property for the house of prayer worth $4.5 million, according to the archdiocese. In contrast, Hollister paid $44,000 and agreed to a contingent promissory note, archdiocese attorney J. Michael Hennigan said.
Even with the rulings, both the archdiocese and Perry have some remaining claims against Hollister that would be decided in a trial.