By Dave Warner
PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - The financially strapped Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia said on Monday it will proceed with plans to sell major facilities in an effort to close a multimillion-dollar budget deficit.
The sale includes the archbishop's residence in Philadelphia, a rural Pennsylvania retreat center and a 19-room beachfront mansion in Ventnor, New Jersey, used by vacationing elderly priests, the Church said.
The archdiocese faces a budget gap estimated at $6 million, a spokeswoman said. It also faces legal costs stemming from a pedophilia scandal estimated at more than $11 million.
"To address the cash flow challenges caused by the deficits, the church is faced with hard decisions," said Archbishop Charles Chaput in a statement. "It's similar to what families have to do when their expenses are greater than income."
Chaput said the archdiocese has been running a deficit for years.
The archdiocese was involved in the high-profile trial of Monsignor William Lynn, who was found guilty in June of covering up child sex abuse, and it faces the possibility of dozens of civil suits in the priest pedophilia scandal.
The spokeswoman for the archdiocese said the legal costs are separate from the budget deficit.
The proposed sales of the archbishop's residence and the New Jersey shore villa had been announced earlier but were confirmed on Monday.
The villa, assessed at more than $6 million and located near Atlantic City, will be sold at auction on September 15, according to auction house Max Spann Real Estate & Auction Co.
The archdiocese has owned the 11-bedroom mansion, with 175 feet of beachfront, since 1963 when it was sold to the Church by a family for $1,000.
Along with the archbishop's residence in Philadelphia and the 452-acre (182-hectare) Mary Immaculate Retreat Center in Northampton, north of Philadelphia, the Church said it also will be selling the Holy Family Center, a Philadelphia facility used by charities and social service agencies.
The real estate sales come after 40 staff members at the archdiocese were let go in June.
(Editing by Ellen Wulfhorst and Xavier Briand)
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