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.