Mass. gay couple sues Worcester Diocese for denying opportunity to buy church-owned mansion

washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/mass-gay-couple-sues-worcester-diocese-for-denying-opportunity-to-buy-church-owned-mansion/2012/09/10/5b5773a2-fb53-11e1-98c6-ec0a0a93f8eb_story.html?tid=pm_national_pop

They allege that they were in negotiations to buy Oakhurst, a former retreat center in Northbridge, when church officials suddenly pulled out.

They say they inadvertently received an email from the chancellor of the diocese to the church’s broker saying the reason was because of the “potentiality of gay marriages” at the home.

who cares what the reason is ,the Diocese doesn’t want sell it to them.

It is their property, they have the right to sell or not sell for whatever reason.

Not if they are found to be in violation of the Fair Housing Act. Sexual orientation is a protected class in MA.

Housing discrimination used to be widespread in the US. Refusing to sell because of the buyer’s skin color, or nationality, or religion was not uncommon. It still happens, but federal law forbids such unjust discrimination and it can be grounds for legal action.

In the specific case we are discussing, I think the diocese had a good reason to decline the offer. The diocese was requesting $1.45 million for the property. The couple’s offer of $1 million was accepted. But then the couple demanded that the purchase price be dropped to $0.55 million. I think most people could understand why the diocese wasn’t interested.

But the email, if true, puts the diocese in very bad light.

[quote=news article in first post]“I just went down the hall and discussed it with the bishop,” the email read. “Because of the potentiality of gay marriages there, something you shared with us yesterday, we aren’t 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.”
[/quote]

No, they don’t have that right as others have said.

Now, possibly you can put a rider, I think it’s called, on a property and stipulate that the buyers must agree to never use it for a certain purpose or not sell it to another without offering it to the seller or something like that. Varies from state to state.

Straight people might buy it and host gay weddings, also, you know.

If the Church changed its mind it changed its mind. It is their right. Fair housing be darned. They could change their mind and say it’s for whatever reason they want and it’s entirely within their right. They are not obligated to sell to a gay couple just because they get offended by being turned down.

I know when my grandmother’s Church was combined with another church and they sold Church she attended they were really specific about who they could sell it to and ended up selling it to the Baptists but I believe they are not allowed to sell if it is going to be used for things contrary to Church teachings.

:eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:

This is a matter of law and it is not, by law, their “right.” You can’t say “fair housing be darned” because it’s the law. It’s Federal Law. Are we all going to decide what laws get obeyed depending on if we like them or not? The Church’s problem is: they didn’t say it was for “whatever reason” - they gave their reason in an email and it places them squarely in violation of Federal law.

The diocese had good reason to think that gay marriages would take place at the property. The couple buying it planned to use it as a venue for weddings and other large gatherings.

James Fairbanks and Alain Beret, married business partners from Sutton, had been searching for the perfect property for nearly two years when they discovered Oakhurst, an aging mansion on 26 beautiful acres in Northbridge. The former retreat center, which was affiliated with the Diocese of Worcester and had been on the market for some time, would be the ideal spot for their next venture: an inn that would host weddings and other big events.

[Monsignor Thomas Sullivan, chancellor of the diocese] said, however, that the church, as a matter of policy, will not sell properties where Masses have been celebrated to people who plan to host same-sex weddings. The church will not sell to developers who plan to transform them into abortion clinics either, he said — or to bars, lounges, or other kinds of uses that church officials deem inappropriate.

boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2012/09/09/gay-couple-said-church-denied-northbridge-sale-stop-same-sex-weddings/QrdnHOSuZfWmb6keBwLnxK/story.html

Someone previously mentioned the use of a contract rider which would forbid the use of such properties for certain purposes e…g. being used as a tavern or abortion clinic. I wonder if such a rider would stand up if it specified that same-sex marriages are not allowed to take place on the property?

BTW, I had previously mentioned federal law forbidding housing discrimination, but it seems that the couple’s lawsuit is based upon Massachusetts state law.

How would the diocese know that they would use it as a venue for gay weddings? Even the potential new owners couldn’t possibly know what the demographic of their future clientele will be. Sounds to me like they based that opinion on the sexual orientation of the buyers.

I think it stands to reason that if a facility is planned as wedding venue, and same-sex marriage is legal in the state, that some of the weddings will be same-sex.

But yes, I have to wonder if the diocese didn’t add together the sexual orientation of the couple and their business plan and decide that same-sex marriages at the property might be a common occurrence.

If it is a violation of state law do refuse this sale then I wonder if the Church could not stand on the First Amendment of free exercise of religion. I guess that would be for the federal courts to sort out. In the end, I still would not sell, even if I had to lose and pay a judgment.

[bibledrb]Acts 5:29[/bibledrb]
Christians, like all people of good will, are called upon under grave obligation of conscience not to cooperate formally in practices which, even if permitted by civil legislation, are contrary to God’s law. Indeed, from the moral standpoint, it is never licit to cooperate formally in evil. Such cooperation occurs when an action, either by its very nature or by the form it takes in a concrete situation, can be defined as a direct participation in an act against innocent human life or a sharing in the immoral intention of the person committing it. This cooperation can never be justified either by invoking respect for the freedom of others or by appealing to the fact that civil law permits it or requires it. Each individual in fact has moral responsibility for the acts which he personally performs; no one can be exempted from this responsibility, and on the basis of it everyone will be judged by God himself (cf. Rom 2:6; 14:12).

[RIGHT]John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae, 74
[/RIGHT]
Good for the diocese.

boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2012/09/10/gay_couple_said_church_denied_northbridge_sale_to_stop_same_sex_weddings/

Sullivan said, however, that the church, as a matter of policy, will not sell properties where Masses have been celebrated to people who plan to host same-sex weddings. Thechurch will not sell to developers who plan to transform them into abortion clinics either, he said — or to bars, lounges, or other kinds of uses that church officials deem inappropriate.

“We wouldn’t sell our churches and our properties to any of a number of things that would reflect badly on the church,” he said. “These buildings are sacred to the memory of Catholics.”

Unless conveyancing procedures, property and contract laws in America are different to the UK, one would query the Purchasers’ demand to re-negotiate a purchase price post contractual stage. One would think that with an investment cost of $1 million, they would have the sense to make appropriate enquiries, surveys and inspections of the property pre-contract.

But the email, if true, puts the diocese in very bad light.

And, the Purchasers will continue to use a red herring to further their case. Never mind that chronology of events show that they reneged on an agreement.

So because of their orientation they should sell a 1 million dollar property for $500,000? Not saying orientation didn’t color their decision but regardless they shoulnd’t have to sell at such a low price. They also wanted to just buy part of the property and they aren’t willing to chop it up.

James Fairbanks and Alain Beret, married business partners from Sutton, had been searching for the perfect property for nearly two years when they discovered Oakhurst, an aging mansion on 26 beautiful acres in Northbridge. The former retreat center, which was affiliated with the Diocese of Worcester and had been on the market for some time, would be the ideal spot for their next venture: an inn that would host weddings and other big events.

boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/2012/09/09/gay-couple-said-church-denied-northbridge-sale-stop-same-sex-weddings/QrdnHOSuZfWmb6keBwLnxK/singlepage.html

These people are suing this diocese because of this. How sickening. I guess people aren’t allowed to have a conscience they can act on anymore are they? :rolleyes::mad:

This has been the law for over fifty years. This issue is the same principle that underlies all Civil Rights laws. As soon as you could sue people for not selling to you, hiring you, renting to you etc for a list of reasons this was going to happen. This is why I oppose all Civil Rights laws. We may object to a man’s reasons for not interacting with people but by making it a matter of law we are violating the rights of men. Society decided that disapproved reasons for not doing things should be illegal. Once we decided that then whatever society disapproves of is illegal. Society disapproves of treating homosexuality as anything but right and good. Society generally disapproves of the Christian ethics, outside of the Social Gospel, so things will only get worse for Christians. The irony is Christians were big supporters of this concept that will now be used against them.

A church is not housing - there is no violation of the Fair Housing Act.

Our “old” church is for sale. It has restrictions on who can buy it and covenants that limit what can be done with the property.

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