The Most Transparent Administration in History Strikes Again »« CSI Exposes Astrology Scam

Catholic Church Lies About Anti-Gay Discrimination

The local newspaper in Worcester, Massachusetts reports on a case where the Catholic diocese lied about a decision not to sell a mansion they owned to a gay couple — and they left the evidence right at the bottom of an email they sent to that couple. They said they had decided not to sell the house but to do something else with it, but at the bottom of a long chain of emails they left the real reason:

It’s bad enough that the Catholic Church discriminates against gay people. But it’s poor form — and possibly illegal — to document the bigotry and then mistakenly email it to the victims.

This embarrassing etiquette lapse occurred as James Fairbanks and Alain Beret were pursuing the purchase of Oakhurst, a 44-bedroom mansion in Northbridge, owned by the Diocese of Worcester. Fairbanks and Beret had searched for two years for the perfect renovation project, and hoped to turn the run-down estate into a banquet facility. Previously, the pair had transformed mansions in Vermont and Barre into similar businesses…

The asking price of $1.4 million was negotiated to $1 million. On May 18, the pair signed an offer to purchase with a $75,000 deposit. They paid $3,000 for a home inspection. They also met with various town boards, all of which expressed enthusiasm for the project because it would save the historic building from developers seeking to raze it…

The next day, they received a brief email from the diocese’s broker, LiSandra Rodriguez-Pagan, saying that the diocese decided to pursue “other plans” for the property…

As noted, if you’re going to discriminate, you should cover your tracks. Inadvertently attached to the email rejecting the counter offer is an email from Msgr. Sullivan to the diocesan broker:

“I just went down the hall and discussed it with the bishop,” Msgr. Sullivan wrote. “Because of the potentiality of gay marriages there, something you shared with us yesterday, we are not interested in going forward with these buyers. I think they’re shaky anyway. So, just tell them that we will not accept their revised plan and the Diocese is making new plans for the property. You find the language.”

The relevant language is in a state statute, which forbids discrimination in housing on the basis of sexual orientation. And those men of God just lied through their teeth and left the evidence of that lie right in their own email. Oops.

Comments

  1. MikeMa says

    I smell a lawsuit to recover the $3000 and time spent. Punitive damages would be a nice bonus. The city ought to sign on as well as they are losing a potentially valuable and tax paying business unlike the lying church.

  2. Gvlgeologist, FCD says

    It’s another case of “cdesign proponentsists”. I guess it’s not too surprising that these guys don’t understand 20th and 21st century technology, since they seem to be mired back in the Dark Ages.

    Just curious. When you say, “a state statute, which forbids discrimination in housing on the basis of sexual orientation”, do you mean that there could be criminal penalties as well as civil penalties?

  3. Gvlgeologist, FCD says

    By the way, it occurs to me that since Msgr. Sullivan told Rodriguez-Pagan to do this, and she did, that it’s conspiracy, too.

  4. says

    Dude, wake us up when the Church DOESN’T lie about something. That would be news.

    Then again, that could be an integral part of their PR strategy: keep on lying about everything until the lies are no longer considered “news” and nobody talks about them anymore.

    PS: the “diocese’s broker, LiSandra Rodriguez-Pagan?” I’m sure that bit of unintentional irony is a subject of much uncomfortable silence within the hierarchy.

  5. Michael Heath says

    Msgr. Sullivan wrote. “Because of the potentiality of gay marriages there, something you shared with us yesterday, we are not interested in going forward with these buyers. I think they’re shaky anyway.

    It doesn’t matter whether the sellers perceived they were “shaky” or not; where I assume Mr. Sullivan is referring to the buyers’ ability to secure financing. Most deals don’t prohibit sellers from continuing to market the property after a deal is struck and even entertain other offers until the first deal closes. That’s because 100% of deals do not close.

    I’m also skeptical Mr. Sullivan is being honest on this issue given the buyers have done this sort of thing twice before and already spent $3000 on an inspection, which most non-idiotic people wouldn’t do unless they were already pre-approved on their ability to borrow; though the underwriting process would also entail pre-approved buyers getting approval for a specific property. Most buyers’ brokers if they’re doing they’re doing their job right wouldn’t even show properties to potential buyers, let alone write an offer on their behalf, unless they were already in possession of a lenders’ pre-approval letter that the buyers are qualified to borrow the requisite amount needed to see certain properties. A letter which also normally accompanies the first offer submitted to demonstrate to sellers buyers are qualified (though the property itself may not be and isn’t known until the underwriting process starts). [It appears given what’s presented here that the buyers wrote an offer, there was some verbal negotiations on at least price, and after a verbal agreement was concluded, the buyers’ broker wrote-up a revised offer to the verbally agreed-upon terms; at which point the sellers had gleaned information about the buyers and then reneged on their verbal agreement.]

  6. Randomfactor says

    I believe I read elsewhere that the church lied BEFORE this, in order to get the investors to make a second, newer offer…presumably so they could back out of it in this way.

    So they’re not even as honest as they appear here. But hey, there’s always confession, right? Clean slate!

  7. wordsmatter says

    LiSandra Rodriguez-Pagan, the diocese’s broker, saw a commission on a $1M sale flying away, knew the reason for it was that her clients were bigoted assholes conspiring to break the law, and next thing you know, “Gosh, Monsignor Sullivan, I made a silly little boo-boo! I’m just SO SORRY!”

    Clever girl.

  8. steve84 says

    In any case, no seller has any say over what a buyer does with a property after the sale. They own it then and aren’t renting it.

    You can see the full extent of their paranoia, desperation and insanity here when they’re worried about someone performing same-sex marriages on one of their former properties.

  9. TGAP Dad says

    IANAL, but as I recall from my education into real estate transactions, once you have a signed purchase agreement, both parties are bound to deliver their respective portions of the transaction, unless some contingency is met. Assuming the buyers could secure financing, and were satisfied with the condition of the property as revealed by the inspection, it seems the diocese may be on shaky legal ground here. I kind of doubt that a purchase agreement would include a contingency for adherence to catholic doctrine in perpetuity.

  10. Michael Heath says

    steve84 writes:

    In any case, no seller has any say over what a buyer does with a property after the sale. They own it then and aren’t renting it.

    Not necessarily true and in this case, not true. Sellers can record legal restrictions on future owners as long as its not illegal, which in this case, discriminating against gay buyers is. But there’s a chance the sellers could have prohibited the place from being transformed into a different type of property by them or future owners. Such a restriction could have effectively eliminated the gays buyers from pursuing this property; as long as the sellers weren’t doing so specifically to prevent gays from purchasing the property or were breaking some other law.

    Several years ago I was doing some research for a friend regarding a squabble in their Northern Michigan sub-division, which was located on an all-sports lake with a very beach and sandy bottom. Some lots fronted the lake while back-lot owners had some common beach areas. The two restrictions recorded against each lot by the previous owner, who happened to be the developer, were:
    a) no outhouses and,
    b) couldn’t sell to black people.
    And this recordation took place in the late-1950s, in the north.

  11. anubisprime says

    I see jeebus seems to be looking after their ass?

    But oh dear…let’s see…

    “It was a joke”

    “It was an atheist conspiracy”

    “Everybody hateses’ the Vatican…God…Jebus….the Church (delete as appropriate)”

    “It was an atheist conspiracy”…mentioned once but they like to indulge in banal repetition.

    “It was the secular society in the 1960’s”

    “”God moves in mysterious ways”

    “Msgr. Sullivan & the Bishop do not work for the Catholic Church”

    “The devil wentandgoneanddidit”

    Nope, nothing there really does the damage control, they are fucked, Maybe they will just stick to ‘atheist conspiracy’ cos everyone and his dogcollar, including most judges, hateses them”

  12. timberwoof says

    In another article I read, it was mentioned that the new buyers would have to install a new fire sprinkler system for a quarter of a million dollars. That price seems on the order of ten time too high for a building that size. The new requirement for that system is part of why the deal had to be renegotiated.

  13. slc1 says

    Re Michael Heath @ #11

    But there’s a chance the sellers could have prohibited the place from being transformed into a different type of property by them or future owners.

    The problem with imposing such a restriction on the property in this case is then only another religious organization could have been interested in buying the property. Consider the brouhaha that would have arisen if the only potential buyer under such a restriction was a Muslim organization that proposed to turn the property into a Mosque!

  14. Gvlgeologist, FCD says

    I just went to the original article and looked at about the 1st 50% of letters (there are over 100). The vast majority (I’d estimate over 90%) are in support of the buyers. That’s heartening, at least.

  15. baal says

    Fwiw the “can’t sell to black people” is common – especially in the south or properties for rich folks. It’s also unenforceable and you’d get fees (these days) if anyone tried to enforce it (1948, shelley v Kraemer).
    If you buy or sell a property, ask the agent if there is a racial covenant and if there is, to have it stricken from the record.

  16. says

    …Wouldn’t the possibility of gay marriages occurring at a banquet hall in a gay marriage state exist no matter who established it? A straight couple, Banquets-R-Us Inc., etc? It just makes good fiscal sense.

  17. Michael Heath says

    TGAP Dad writes:

    IANAL, but as I recall from my education into real estate transactions, once you have a signed purchase agreement, both parties are bound to deliver their respective portions of the transaction, unless some contingency is met.

    The article quoted here infers the parties never entered into a written agreement. Instead it appears a written offer was made, there was some verbal negotiation, and then when the parties came to a verbal agreement, the buyers wrote up an new offer with the verbally agreed-upon terms which the sellers then declined to accept.

  18. slc1 says

    Re Michael Heath @ #18

    According to former radio talk show host Bruce Williams, a verbal agreement is just as binding as a written agreement, provided it can be proved that such an agreement was made.

  19. Michael Heath says

    slc1 writes:

    According to former radio talk show host Bruce Williams, a verbal agreement is just as binding as a written agreement, provided it can be proved that such an agreement was made.

    Citing a former radio talk show host for a specific contract is equivalent to your rejecting what Cold War players and highly celebrated Cold War experts have to say and instead relying on some guy who happens to be a physicist.

    In this case the purchase offer was most likely written on a purchase agreement template where the buyers’ broker filled in the blanks on certain terms, e.g., price, financing to be used, possession, inspection period, etc. Those templates predominately have a hard-coded term noting all agreements between the parties are in writing only. That doesn’t mean the sellers’ aren’t in violation of the law here; they most certainly appear to be given their written motivation for not accepting this offer after having verbally agreed to certain changes relative to the original written offer.

  20. TGAP Dad says

    @18 Michael Heath:

    Thanks for the clarification/correction. I didn’t actually read the article and was speculating a bit too much.

  21. Quodlibet says

    wordsmatter @ #8:

    LiSandra Rodriguez-Pagan, the diocese’s broker … Clever girl.

    Why do you assume that she is less than 18 years old? Doesn’t that seem unlikely? Would you like to rephrase that?

    Words matter.

  22. abear says

    @#23; So Scott, are you calling her a Velociraptor just because she is in the real estate business? Not very PC today are we?

  23. frog says

    abear: No, he’s comparing her to Sharon Stone’s character in the original Total Recall, when she distracts Aaahnold while the bad guys are on the way to their apartment.

    Yeah, I have too many movies memorized.

  24. slc1 says

    Re Michael Heath @ #20

    I would be willing to bet that Mr. Williams has bought and sold more properties in his lifetime and has started up more businesses then Heath has. Hosting a call in radio show, which I doubt that Heath ever listened to, was a sideline for him.

    Ole Heath apparently doesn’t bother to read a comment before reaching for his keyboard. Here’s what I said: a verbal agreement is just as binding as a written agreement, provided it can be proved that such an agreement was made. I have no idea in this particular case where there was a verbal agreement that can be proved.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Williams_%28talk_radio_host%29

  25. Michael Heath says

    slc1 writes:

    I would be willing to bet that Mr. Williams has bought and sold more properties in his lifetime and has started up more businesses then Heath has. Hosting a call in radio show, which I doubt that Heath ever listened to, was a sideline for him.

    Did you purposefully avoid blockquoting what I stated given I specifically referenced and emphasized this was a specific contract for a residential property where we know they used brokers where the protocol in the industry has brokers using standard purchase agreement templates that require all terms be in writing? Where you responded with a general assertion about contracts in general from some guy on the radio? Do you realize how this argument actually descends below how YECs argue?

    And I have no idea how you could magically discern how many deals I’ve done to compare them to this guy. How exactly does this magic work?

  26. slc1 says

    Re Michael Heath @ #27

    Excuse me, Bruce Williams was not just “some guy on the radio”. Rush Limbaugh is some guy on the radio. Mr. Williams, who needs no defense from me, has a long history of entrepreneurship starting when he was a teenager. I suggest that Heath do some research before committing his smears to his keyboard.

    However, I note that Heath has failed to dispute my claim that a verbal contract is just as binding as a written contract, provided, of course, that disinterested witnesses can verify it. I don’t know if there was a verbal contract in the particular case at issue or, if there was, whether there are disinterested witnesses who can verify what was said. I doubt that Heath knows either.

  27. Pierce R. Butler says

    But think of the ghey orgies possible in a 44-bedroom mansion!

    Brownian, put in a bid!

  28. Michael Heath says

    slc1 writes:

    However, I note that Heath has failed to dispute my claim that a verbal contract is just as binding as a written contract, provided, of course, that disinterested witnesses can verify it. I don’t know if there was a verbal contract in the particular case at issue or, if there was, whether there are disinterested witnesses who can verify what was said. I doubt that Heath knows either.

    I pointed out twice real estate purchase agreement templates require all terms to be written. Yes verbal contracts are possible in some transactions, but here we’re talking about a specific contract where we can be confident given Real Estate brokers are involved, a standard template is in use which has boilerplate language restricting all terms to be written.

Leave a Reply