Five Old Nuns and a Tough Archbishop

I've spent the last few hours doing my best to dig into the sale of the former convent owned by the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary; five elderly women who are all that remain from a once-thriving order in Los Feliz. And I found something. First, the basics:

In short, two of the sisters (one of which is apparently the Chief Financial officer of the Order) acted on behalf of the other three, selling their former convent to Dana Hollister. Hollister owns restaurants. She may want to transform the palatial sixty-thousand square foot property into a boutique hotel and or restaurant. She says she hasn't decided.

At the same time, the LA Archdiocese was inking a deal on the property with pop-star Katy Perry. Perry offered more money up front, $10 million dollars, while Hollister paid only $100,000 up front with $9.9 million due sometime down the road. There's an extra $4 million to $5 million in the balance for a prayer house on the property but don't get tangled up in that.

While much of the news media has reported this story to make it sound like Katy Perry is battling little old nuns, what's really happening here is at least some of these elderly servants are in a fearful battle with their church; or at least with their Archbishop. The diocese says the Vatican gave it authority to be the "Steward" of the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary which includes making all of their legal decisions for them. A spokesperson for the diocese says it merely wants to help the sisters get the best deal. The sisters aren't so sure about that.

Which brings me to a document I came across. Late last month, while the sisters were doing their deal and the diocese was doing its deal, Archbishop Jose Gomez filed a paper with the county. It's called "A Notice of Authority to Act and to Convey Property". It is signed by Gomez and dated May 26, 2015. I'm not a lawyer but it basically says, "We're just putting everyone on notice that the Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary do not have the right to do anything with their own property unless we say so."

Gomez knew the sisters were trying to sell their convent on their own. They told LA Times columnist Steve Lopez they tried to reach Gomez as the deal was getting close but he didn't get back to them. But the Archbishop had time to throw down a legal chop block. The diocese has even filed a suit (practically on behalf of Katy Perry) against Hollister asking a court to restrain her from the property. I don't envy the judge who will be divining the legality of a property deed against Vatican authority.

And I really don't envy the sisters because, whether the diocesan statement-- that it really just wants the best for the sisters--is true or not, the sisters don't believe it. Pretty sad, if not surprising, end to their lives serving their church. Yeah, I know, what were they doing in a $15 million dollar palace in the first place? That's for another round.

Copyright 2015 FOX 11 Los Angeles | Download our mobile app for breaking news alerts or to watch FOX 11 News | Follow us on Facebook , Twitter and YouTube .