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Spotlight Report

BC board informally backs archdiocese land deal

By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff, 12/6/2003

Boston College President William P. Leahy yesterday won general but informal support from the university's board of trustees for his plan to attempt to buy the 28 acres in Brighton offered for sale by the Archdiocese of Boston.

The BC board held an abbreviated meeting at which Leahy briefed the trustees on Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley's announcement this week that he plans to sell a 28-acre parcel of archdiocesan property across Commonwealth Avenue from the college.

"We will do our best to make an offer that is reflective of the value of the land and that helps the archdiocese to meet its settlement obligations," said Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn.

The chairman of the trustees, Jack Connors Jr., said that after Leahy's presentation, a few trustees asked questions, and that none expressed concern or opposition.

"There were no surprises -- there was an expression of respect for our neighbors and our hope that we'll be considered," Connors said. "It should be obvious that we're interested in all opportunities to expand our resources. We need more land."

Although relations between Boston College and archdiocesan officials have sometimes been strained, the two Catholic institutions are closely linked. An archdiocesan official, the Rev. Edward M. O'Flaherty, serves as a Boston College trustee, and multiple current and former college trustees serve on the archdiocesan finance council, various church-related boards, or advise the church in other formal or informal capacties.

O'Malley had planned today to explain to the archdiocese's priests his decision to sell the land and to outline the church's financial situation and the need for closing parishes around the archdiocese. Because of the impending snowstorm, O'Malley postponed the meeting until Dec. 16. O'Malley then left for Honduras, where he is to give a talk Monday.

Michael Paulson can be reached at mpaulson@globe.com.


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