The Philadelphia Archdiocese found itself with serious financial problems. An outside, third-party company offered them a large sum of money to lease out thirteen cemeteries, some of which had unused space. Some of these cemeteries had been under the trust and care of the Archdiocese for over 100 years, and all had previously been exclusively Catholic.
Would entering lucrative maintenance, management and operating agreements with a non-Catholic, third party organization constitute a diversion of property from the purposes, uses and trusts to which these cemeteries had been lawfully dedicated? How do you notify the interested parties in this case? Is the Philadelphia Orphans’ Court even the correct venue for this matter?
Judge J. Herron wrote an interesting decision on these potentially thorny questions, which can be read in whole here. He found that the Archdiocese had satisfied him that the agreements did not constitute a diversion of property from the purposes, uses and trusts to which the cemeteries had been lawfully dedicate.