In the crazy world of Los Angeles property disputes, a civil court is stuck in the middle of a battle between an archdiocese and an order of nuns, and a pop singer and a restaurateur.
(Photo: Katy Perry in Moscow, 2009. DepositPhotos.com / magicinfoto)
Last year, the Los Angeles Archdiocese agreed to sell a former convent belonging to the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of the Virgin Mary to pop singer Katy Perry for $14.5 million in cash. At the same time, the nuns agreed to sell the property to restaurateur Dana Hollister for $15.5 million. Now it’s up to a court to decide which of these sales will go through.
On April 11, 2016, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Stephanie Bowick issued a ruling that invalidated the sale to Hollister, saying that archdiocese, not the nuns, have the right to sell the Waverly Place convent, a 22,000-square-foot mansion on 8 acres in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, but the nuns aren’t giving up the fight.
The dispute is at issue not because of the identity of the prospective buyers, but rather because of the financial control. The nuns plan to use the proceeds from the sale of the property to provide them with financial security and they claim that the archdiocese simply wants to control the money.
For the Catholic Church to sell any property, it is necessary to obtain the approval of the Vatican. In this case, the Vatican’s approval (or disapproval) was, of course, written in Latin and translated by the legal team from the archdiocese. According to the archdiocese, the dispute had been concluded. The nuns are arguing to the contrary that the translation was incorrect, and the Vatican had only transferred it to another division known as the Dicastery and that the Vatican’s decision is not final. Pending the Vatican’s final decision, the nuns have asked the judge to rescind her ruling.
Judge Bowick, previously indicated that she doesn’t want to get involved in ecclesiastical matters, is stuck in the middle of the dispute between the nuns and the archdiocese. At this point, the judge will likely find a way to ask the Vatican to clarify its decree, perhaps in English this time, and go with whatever it decides.