Friday, August 12, 2005

Parishes are in control of their own property

So says Rome. I'm not sure how this fits into historical understandings of parishes . . . I really don't enough history to say, but it seems somehow odd to me. Though I suppose it makes sense if you think about it, really, since the parishes are financially responsible for themselves for the most part.

The implications for the bankrupcy case in Portland are also most fascinating.

The Vatican's canonical decision has immediate implications for other American dioceses-- such as Portland, Oregon, and Tucson, Arizona-- where Church officials have told bankruptcy courts that they do not control the financial assets of their parishes. That contention has been challenged by plaintiffs in sex-abuse lawsuits, who argue that the diocese or archdiocese is the sole legal owner of parish properties.

Critics of the position adopted by the Archdiocese of Portland had pointed to the apparent contradiction between the claims of that archdiocese, which said that it could not control parish properties, and the plans of the Boston archdiocese to close parishes and take control of their assets.

The legal questions involved in parish ownership are likely to be addressed first by the federal bankruptcy court in Oregon, where the Portland archdiocese had been the first to claim a separation between archdiocesan and parish assets.

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