Los Angeles considering capital campaign to raise $200 million

From the Los Angeles Times

In the midst of renewed public outrage over its handling of clergy sex abuse, the Los Angeles Archdiocese is considering a $200-million fundraising campaign that could erase debts brought on by the scandal.

The archdiocese has hired a New York company, Guidance In Giving Inc., to study the feasibility of a large-scale fundraiser that would shore up a bottom line hit hard by costly abuse litigation. It would be the archdiocese’s first capital campaign in 60 years.

The archdiocese’s $660-million settlement in 2007 with more than 500 victims was the largest in U.S. history. According to a December financial report, the archdiocese is still paying down loans it used to cover the settlement, and its liabilities now outstrip its assets by $80 million.

The archdiocese is contemplating the fundraiser as a way to repay settlement loans totaling $175 million, according to the report. An archdiocese spokesman confirmed that the capital campaign was being considered but in a statement did not address whether any proceeds would be used to pay down the settlement loan.

Spokesman Tod Tamberg said in an email that the funds would “be put into various endowments earmarked to support the pastoral priorities of the Archdiocese, as well for the general repair and upkeep of our parish churches and schools.”

As part of a six-month study, consultants planned to interview pastors at all 288 parishes in the three-county archdiocese as well as other clergy and lay leaders, the report said. Tamberg described initial feedback from the study as “very positive.”

The church’s last capital campaign occurred in 1949 and raised $3.5 million for new schools in only three weeks. At that time, there were about 650,000 Catholics in the archdiocese. Now there are 5 million, according to church figures.

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