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Land sales to pay priest abuse claims

TUCSON -- More than 80 properties owned by the Catholic Diocese of Tucson were auctioned off yesterday in hopes of raising $3.2 million toward an eventual settlement to pay clergy sex abuse claims.

But the sale of the 83 properties in eight Arizona counties, conducted with Bankruptcy Court approval, will not become final until June 23, and officials will not know for about 40 days exactly how much revenue the auction produced.

Three parcels were sold under sealed bids that had to be submitted by Thursday; their pre-set minimums were expected to bring in more than half of the hoped-for total. All three were considered prime candidates for development.

Intense bidding opened on the single most expensive parcel sold yesterday -- 10 acres in northeast Tucson -- reaching $890,000. The last two properties sold were quarter- and fifth-acre plots in Navajo County, for $1,500 apiece.

Only two properties had homes on them; the rest were unimproved lots. Some were donated by parishioners over the years and were in remote inaccessible sites.

Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas said the auction was ''an important step" toward completing the decision to seek Chapter 11 protection.

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