Reporting Karen Anderson
WORCESTER (CBS) – Alain Beret has a vision. He wants to transform a neglected historic home, for sale by the Catholic Church, into a venue for weddings and functions.
He’s done it before and loves the character and the understated charm.
Alain and his partner Jim put in an offer for $1 million for the Oakhurst Retreat and Conference Center and say the Diocese of Worcester accepted it.
But, according to Beret, as they were doing their due diligence and pursuing normal negotiations, the Diocese abruptly stopped the sale.
Beret didn’t know what happened, until he began scrolling through an email between the brokers.
He noticed a message at the bottom of the thread from Monsignor Thomas Sullivan to his realtor.
“I just went down the hall and discussed it with the bishop. Because of the potentiality of gay marriages there….we are not interested in going forward with these buyers. I think they’re shaky anyway. So, just tell them that we will not accept their revised plan and the Diocese is making new plans for the property. You find the language.”
“Shocked. I’m never at a loss for words. I didn’t know what to say,” he told WBZ-TV.
“I did not think in 21st century Massachusetts I would see something like that, much less be the victim of something like that.”
He claims they tried to make another offer, but it was still not well received by the Church.
Beret said he is not backing down.
“I have lived almost 60 years quietly in the mainstream, and I would like to continue that, but I will not do that at the expense of my dignity.”
Beret, who is an attorney, said he believes the Church broke state law with the alleged discrimination and he is now looking into legal action.
“This is a state-centered transaction, this is not a Church transaction, this is not a theological discussion, it’s nothing more than that. I believe the Church has engaged in an activity that may be illegal in Massachusetts.”
We reached out to the Diocese of Worcester, but we were told Monsignor Sullivan was not able to respond to the story.
The Oakhurst Retreat and Conference Center was once the “House of Affirmation,” a treatment center for priests with psychological problems.