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Sale of Church Property

July 12, 2011

Since there have been some reports about the sale of Church property, I think it is necessary to clarify Archdiocesan policy and procedures regarding this.

As a policy, in the Archdiocese of Bombay, no Archdiocesan property is to be sold, unless there is a clear disadvantage to the Church in retaining these, i.e. danger of encroachment, being overrun by slums, big outgoings, etc.

 Besides, the following procedures are followed:

1. If a Parish Priest feels that a particular piece of property is to be alienated, he must first get the consent of the Parish Finance Committee. The proposed sale is informed by the parishioners: either through the Parish Council or by an announcement on the Notice Board.

2.The Parish Priest then refers the matter to Archbishop’s Office: here the matter is first studied by the Archdiocesan Finance Committee, (a body of experts in finance, law, engineering and administration), whose consent is obtained for the alienation; after this is obtained, or while the matter is being studied by the Archdiocesan Finance Committee, the matter is referred to the College of Consultors, a body of senior priests, who look into the pastoral aspects of the sale. Prior to this, a valuation by a Government-approved valuer is obtained, and the alienation is advertised in the newspapers, inviting offers.

3.After the consent of both these bodies has been obtained, the matter comes to the Archbishop who may then give his permission. If the value of the property is above the limit set by the Episcopal Conference (presently 1 Crore), the matter is referred to the Holy See for its approval as well.

4.After all the above approvals have been obtained, as required by Canon Law and the Archdiocesan praxis, the matter is referred to the Charity Commissioner for his permission.

 Hence, there are many steps to be gone through before any sale is permitted. The Trustee/ Parish Priest’s role is limited to initiating this process and later seeing to the execution after the required permissions have been obtained.

The funds received from the sale are to be put in the Corpus of the Trust, and are not to be used for any running expenditure. If any amount is to be spent from the Corpus, specific permission has to be obtained for this, both from the Archbishop and the Charity Commissioner.

+Oswald Cardinal Gracias
Archbishop of Bombay

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