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Wednesday, December 7, 2005

My sentiments exactly

One of my colleagues in legal academe hit the nail right on the head the other day in discussing the pending bankruptcy proceeding that pits the Archdiocese of Portland against victims of child sex abuse by priests. He was talking about the church's claim that its real property belongs to the individual parishes rather than the archdiocese as a whole:

David Skeel, a bankruptcy law expert at the University of Pennsylvania, says it is a case destined for the U.S. Supreme Court...

Skeel said the church has taken inconsistent positions on ownership in the past, noting the Archdiocese of Boston has acted like a property owner in deciding whether to close Catholic schools in the Boston area.

"It's a tricky issue," Skeel said. "But it just seems to me that when it's relatively easy to use the secular property system to make clear to everyone who the owner is, that you ought to be required to do that."

Comments (1)

When I worked for the Archdiocese from '73 to '89 it was quite clear to me that any significant financial decisions regarding purchases or sales of ANY big-ticket item, especially real property, was made at the Chancery Office (then the term for HQ).

I worked at the Catholic Cemeteries. The "trust fund", into which a percentage of the purchase price of each grave sold was deposited, (puportedly for future maintenance) was managed by the Archdiocese directly - a situation somewhat analogous to parish assets.

Over the years I came to believe that the Archdiocese would exploit almost any avenue to avoid taxes, fees or any other government oversight. Indeed, my first eye-opening revelation was that they were not paying state employment taxes for the teachers at parish grade schools or high schools. Apparently the justification was their contention that doing so would violate "the separation of Church and State"

So much for Christian Charity.

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