Cincinnati to determine if order can transfer in

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Cincinnati residents will find out today if a controversial Roman Catholic order can convert a large historic home into a monastery.

A zone official is supposed to determine the fate of the housein the North Avondale neighborhood of Cincinnati.

The religious order, Legionaries of Christ, has permission to use the “Lake Como on Rose Hill“Manor from 1903. If approved, the property would accommodate seven to 10 priests and convert the single-family home into a group home.

There was a series of protests by residents who have cited the Order’s previous allegations of sexual abuse. They also fear that the rezoning could set a precedent forother houses in the neighborhood.

In an updated report on the development, city officials recommended conditional use of the home for a monastery, but with three conditions:

  • Not more than 10 residents;
  • No services in the residence;
  • It cannot be used for temporary housing or other group housing.

How we got here

Brother Ryan Carlin, a representative and member of the Legionaries of Christ, recently attended a North Avondale Neighborhood Association (NANA) meeting where the Order surveyed over 400 properties in Cincinnati over the past three years. According to Carlin, the mansion on Lake Como is the only house that meets all of its requirements.

According to Carlin, the house would not be used for any public service.

The Legionaries’ motion says that seven to ten mission priests would live in the house, which is for sale for $ 789,000. The market listing describes the six-bedroom, four-bathroom and three partial bath house as “Lake Como on Rose Hill” with breathtaking “Italian architecture”.

City planning officials recommended the change. The officials’ reasoning: The property would not change significantly and it would be used almost like a family home, the report said.

On a July 7thAfter a hearing, many North Avondale residents alleged that they had not been properly informed of the Order’s request to move to the neighborhood. Rev. John Bullock and Carlin said the order notified NANA and invited people to speak privately with them about any concerns. At the request of the citizens, the hearing examiner David Sturkey has delayed the hearing to 10 a.m. today

Who is against it and why

Around 60 letters of protest have been sent to city officials in response to the Order’s application for approval, with concerns ranging from the record of the Order’s allegations of pedophilia to the idea that repurposing the house could lead to more residential groups in the neighborhood.

“It doesn’t matter who, it’s what,” said Jeff Herr, chairman of the North Avondale Joint Strategic Development Committee, which acts as a liaison between neighborhood groups and government entities like The Port and the Cincinnati city government.

“This is a permanent zone change and sets a precedent. It’s the fear of the unknown, ”he told the Enquirer. “If one home is allowed to change, what does it mean that others will not follow?”

Others brought up the order’s controversial founder and new members linked to the sexual abuse of minors.

The Legionaries of Christ were founded in Mexico in 1941 by Rev. Marcial Maciel, a priest who became known as a fundraiser and seminary recruiter – and later gained fame after reports of decades of sexual abuse.

In 1997, a group of former college students accused Maciel of abuse an investigation by the Vatican this later led to his retirement and public censure. During his tenure, according to a. abused at least 60 minors 2019 report from the legionaries of Christ.

This report found that 33 members of the Order were abused as priests or deacons, including 18 active members in 2019. Of these 18, 14 priests have no public service and the remaining four have pastoral work that is in contact with. excludes minors. The report does not include the names of these priests.

“Will any of your residents be associated with pedophilia in any way?” Gerry Kraus asked Carlin at the NANA meeting. Carlin instructed residents to check the emails the order sent to the city where it is addressed.

In an email to the city, Carlin wrote: “In recent years, in response to their past mistakes, the Church and our Congregation have implemented protocols to create and maintain safe environments, including background checks, training, external audits, and transparency in reporting. “

He said that every member is required to attend Training to protect God’s children and must receive a certificate of completion with a validity of four years.

A revised report by staff on July 13 looked at neighborhood opposition and found the city had received over 40 objection letters from neighboring property owners.

The reports note that the letters focus on a variety of concerns, primarily related to the applicant’s religious order and beliefs, lack of financial ability to maintain the building, misunderstandings that applicants are requesting a zone change, parking space and concerns in terms of conditional use will set a precedent for future group houses or apartment buildings in the neighborhood, the report says.

“While staff understand the concerns of neighbors, the focus of a conditional use assessment is on a land use assessment of the impact of the proposed use on surrounding land. Religious beliefs and the ability to maintain the building are not a development considerations or influence conditional use standards described above, “the report said.

Who supports and why

Legionaries of Christ has also received some support, particularly from Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati in a letter dated May 18.

“The Catholic Church has a long tradition of religious people living together as a community,” wrote Schnurr. “I am writing to confirm that the Legionaries of Christ are a recognized congregation of the Catholic Church that has resided in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati since 2012.”

Some residents supported the move. In an email dated July 5, Charles and Shelley Dumoulin wrote that they had had the opportunity to meet with the priests and “are confident they will be good neighbors”.

“One of the most striking aspects of our neighborhood is the diversity of the people who live

here. It is clear from the signs in the courtyards and on the strollers on the sidewalk that

all are welcome, “wrote Charles and Shelley Dumoulin.” Although the priests who hope to live at Rose Hill 3980 are not blood relatives, they form their own special family unit. “

What’s next

Today at 10 a.m. there will be a hearing on zoning via Zoom. Construction officials decide whether the city approves the order’s application for approval. If approved, the order will officially buy the property and establish a monastery in North Avondale.

This order can be challenged in the Supreme Court of Ohio.