Local News

Vatican may weigh in on sale of former convent

LOS ANGELES — An attorney for two nuns opposed to the sale of a former convent in Los Feliz to singer Katy Perry told a judge May 2 that he will file new court papers seeking to block any immediate closing of a deal with the singer until the Vatican has its final say in the matter.

John Scholnick, on behalf of Sisters Rita Callanan and Catherine Rose Holzman, asked Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Stephanie Bowick to issue a stay.

“I suspect there’s going to be a quick closing on this,” Scholnick said.

However, the judge said she could not rule on a verbal motion and that it would have to be in writing.

On April 25, Scholnick and the nuns’ other attorneys filed a motion asking Bowick to reconsider her April 13 rulings in favor of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and Perry that appeared to clear the way for the “Roar” singer to acquire the property.

In that motion, the nuns’ attorneys claimed that the archdiocese provided an incorrect translation of a Vatican decree to Bowick to convince the judge to sell the structure to Perry.

The hearing was originally set for June 20, but was moved up to May 24 at the request of the archdiocese’s attorneys, who said they want to clear issues with the property’s title.

Attorneys for the archdiocese and Perry told the judge that finalizing the Perry transaction is not imminent despite Scholnick’s claim to the contrary. Lawyer J. Michael Hennigan, on behalf of the archdiocese, also accused lawyers for the nuns of going on a “media blitz” last week with what he said were false statements about both the amount businesswoman Dana Hollister paid for the property before Bowick canceled the deed as well as what the archdiocese intended to do with the sale money from 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 only $44,000 and agreed to a contingent promissory note, Hennigan said.

Although the media reports stated that the archdiocese intends to use the money from Perry for victims of clergy abuse, the funds actually will go to Callanan, Holzman and the three other members of the Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Hennigan said. Only Callanan and Holzman agreed to sell the property to Hollister, Hennigan said.

“I think we need to do as much as we can to put the truth on the record,” Hennigan said.

Scholnick said the news reports reflected the public’s interest in the case. He and the nuns’ other attorneys stated in their court papers that the archdiocese knew at least three weeks before Bowick’s decision that proceedings involving the sale remained unresolved in Rome, but failed to inform the court.

But the archdiocese issued a statement last week stating that it was the sisters’ attorneys who kept them and the court in the dark.

Hennigan also questioned who was paying the two nuns’ lawyers and said the sisters were being “horribly represented” in the case.

“We need an end to this,” said Hennigan, who said he will file a motion asking that the sisters’ attorneys be found to have acted in bad faith with their recent filings. Hennigan said the nuns’ attorneys’ motion for reconsideration by Bowick of her April 13 decision was “frivolous.”


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