WASHINGTON, March 9, 2017 — On a dark night in 1969, Daniel Donohue, a Los Angeles businessman and philanthropist, was startled awake by an intruder. He somehow managed to scare off the man who broke into the bedroom of his 22,000-square-foot, 1920s Italianate home in the hills of L.A.’s fashionable Silver Lake district.
Some theorized the intruder was the man whose followers – “family” – visited Donohue’s Waverly Drive neighbors shortly thereafter.
Those neighbors, Leno and Rosemary LaBianca, were butchered by the followers of New Age guru Charles Manson the night after his band’s horrific slaughter of Sharon Tate and four of her friends at the actress’s Benedict Canyon home.
For its ability to ward off diabolical evil, you might say the old Donohue homestead sits on sacred ground. As sisters Catherine Rose, 86, and Rita Callanan, 77, members of the order of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the nuns would certainly agree.
The estate, the Catholic nuns insist, was sold to their order in 1970 by Donohue for $600,000. The Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles, on the other hand, insists the estate belongs to it.
You see, the contest over ownership centers on the fact that pop singer Katy Perry would very much like to buy the former convent for $14.5 million.
The nuns, on the other hand, decided they would very much like to sell the stately manor to real estate developer and restaurateur Dana Hollister – and did so for $15.5 million.
And so, the contest over the estate’s ownership, not to mention the validity of its sale to Hollister, has become a battle pitting Archbishop Jose Gomez against two elderly and frail nuns in the so-called “City of Angels.”
The Archdiocese will make its case this coming July in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Sisters Rose and Callanan, on the other hand, have appealed to a higher authority: the Roman Rota Tribunal of the Vatican, the highest appellate body of the Catholic Church, which holds sway over the sale of church property.
“I want the Pope to know what this man [Archbishop Gomez] has been doing – this archdiocese needs to be cleaned out,” Sister Callanan told the London Daily Mail.
The nuns object to selling the estate to Perry on moral and religious grounds, citing her Salem Witch Walk attendance in 2014, an event organizers say is meant to proclaim “the truth about Witchcraft… learn about charms, spells, and hexes, and even stand in one of America’s oldest graveyards.”
“Every guest receives a magic crystal blessed by a Salem Witch!” says The Salem Witch Walk Facebook page.
But the men of the L.A. Catholic Archdiocese would very much like to get their hands on Perry’s millions. It would help recoup the estimated $660 million lost in a financial settlement reached in 2007, which benefited the 508 sexual-abuse victims who suffered at the hands of 221 L.A. priests.
The Devil, it seems, never sleeps.