Nuns say selling to Katy Perry would 'violate vows'

Elderly nuns have stepped up a fight to stop pop star Katy Perry buying their convent, telling a court that the proposed sale would "violate our canonical vows to the Catholic Church".

Sister Catherine Rose Holzman, 86, and Sister Rita Callanan, 77, of the Sisters of the Most Holy and Immaculate Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary, also accused the Archbishop of Los Angeles, who wants to push through the sale, of carrying out a "hostile takeover".

It was the latest salvo in a bitter legal battle over the future of Waverly, the order's home located on hilltop with stunning views over Hollywood.

Last year a buyer called Katherine Hudson offered $14.5 million for the eight-acre estate.

The nuns used the internet to discover this was the real name of Miss Perry, the multi-millionaire singer of hits including I Kissed A Girl and Teenage Dream.

The performer's penchant for skimpy stage outfits did not sit well with the owners "for what should be obvious reasons coming from Catholic nuns", according to the court filings by Sister Catherine Rose and Sister Rita.

Instead, they quickly sold the property to Dana Hollister, a local restaurateur, for a higher price of $15.5 million. Miss Perry's bid, however, was a cash offer.

Jose Gomez, the Archbishop of Los Angeles, then weighed in saying the nuns had no authority to make a sale as they were under the ultimate authority of the church.

On June 19 the archbishop sued Miss Hollister to prevent the sale and to remove her from the property.

Documents now submitted by the nuns have revealed the full schismatic bitterness of their fallout with the archdiocese over the affair.

They accused Archbishop Gomez of acting as if he were "above the rules and immune from the obligations of civil law".

In an email written to the archdiocese on May 22, Sister Catherine Rose said: "In selling to Katy Perry, we feel we are being forced to violate our canonical vows to the Catholic Church."

In a letter of June 13 under the heading "How the Chancery Stole Waverly", Sister Jean-Marie Dunne, 88, accused church officials of "not possessing a modicum of humility".

She added: "They seem obsessed with their misconception of their sovereign, ecclesiastical canonical importance."

The convent, which includes Gothic and Spanish elements, was built in 1927 and purchased by the order in 1972.

Five nuns are left alive and are aged 77 to 88. They all moved out in 2011, and now live separately, including in retirement homes.

Two of them have signed statements supporting the archdiocese's desire to sell to Miss Perry.

Sister Catherine Rose and Sister Rita claimed that one of them, an octogenarian, was on morphine at the time she did so, but that assertion has been rejected by lawyers for the archdiocese.

The nuns have employed the services of a Hollywood legal firm based on Los Angeles's Avenue of the Stars.

The archdiocese maintains that the cash offer is a better deal and would mean it could better look after the nuns in their retirement.

In a statement Archbishop Gomez said: "I would like to reiterate my continued commitment to all of the Immaculate Heart sisters that the archdiocese will take care of them and ensure their well-being now and in the future."

Miss Perry is not involved in the legal case and has made no public comment.

Before the case ended up in court she visited the convent, dressed appropriately, sang for the nuns, and showed them her tattoo of the word "Jesus".

The pop star explained she wanted to live there with her mother and grandmother, and was described as "nice" by the nuns.