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Church Closing II

We alerted you a few weeks ago to the bankruptcy proceedings against the Catholic diocese of Portland, OR. The same situation is now unfolding in Tuscon, AZ.

Apparently, similar questions are being raised:

Parish property is believed to be worth at least $50 million, far more than the $16.6 million in assets the diocese listed in its bankruptcy filing.

James A. Hayes Jr., assistant professor at Western State University College of Law in Fullerton, Calif., says the decision on whether to include parish assets as part of the diocese "may forever change the legal rights of all churches" by giving civil authorities power over church property.

"If these assets are liquidated to satisfy the claims of abuse claimants, parishioners may literally be left without a house in which to worship," said Hayes, who has closely observed the case and a similar filing in Portland, Ore.

Hayes argues that without specific civil law governing parishes, church law takes over. Under church law, he argues, parishes are independent of the diocese, even though decisions such as church closures, pastor assignments and large expenditures are approved by a bishop.

Marci Hamilton, professor at Yeshiva University's Cardozo School of Law in New York, says that just the opposite applies. Without laws on how parishes should operate, the courts should turn to other documents, such as deeds that show ownership in diocesan hands, she said.

Just goes to show that the children of this world are far more adept at dealing with their own than the children of the light.


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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on November 8, 2004 8:39 AM.

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