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Detroit Archdiocese defends property transfers

Anders Adermark

The Detroit Archdiocese has responded to criticism of its move to transfer property into a holding company. The church is being accused of trying to shield assets from potential lawsuits by victims of sexual abuse.

It set up a company called Mooney Real Estate Holdings in March. Since then, it has transferred about three quarters of its property into it.

Ned McGrath is with the Archdiocese. He says this is part one of a long-term plan to shift parish assets to the control of individual parishes.

"50, 60, 70 years ago in Detroit and Ann Arbor and other places around the state, these parishes were built by people and they belong to those people. They do not belong to the bishop," says McGrath.

The property transfer process was initiated in March of 2018, shortly after bills were introduced in Michigan's Legislature to extend the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse. Critics say that the decision of the Archdiocese to resume its property transfer plan after more than 10 years of inaction is suspicious. The Michigan attorney general's office also launched an investigation of sexual abuse in all seven Michigan diocese in August of 2018.

According to McGrath, there are no threats of lawsuits against the Archdiocese, and the property transfers have nothing to do with any sexual abuse claims or investigations.

Catherine Shaffer joined Michigan Radio in 2014. She works in the newsroom and specializes in stories related to the life sciences, health, and technology. Catherine earned a bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Michigan State University and a Master’s from University of Michigan. Prior to Michigan Radio, Catherine has worked as a freelance writer, mainly in focusing on biotechnology and the pharmaceutical industry, since 2001. She is also an award-winning fiction writer. When not at work, Catherine enjoys being in the outdoors and practicing yoga.