Tuesday, August 02, 2005

You are the Church... For Legal Purposes Only

CWNews may have posted this, but it's something so revolutionary in the legal realm that it deserves a good spreading.
A US bankruptcy court judge in Oregon has certified 389,000 Catholic parishioners as defendants in a case brought by the Archdiocese of Portland.

In an extremely rare legal maneuver, Judge Elizabeth Perris accepted the suggestion that all Catholics in the archdiocese should be included as defendants, in order to settle the key issue in the bankruptcy proceedings: whether the assets of the parishes in Portland belong to the archdiocese or to the individual parishes and parishioners.

Stories like this drive me batty, because it just shows the worst hypocritical tendencies of the bishops. When everything's hunky-dory, collections are up and the boys are all behaving themselves, they are the church and -- a la That Fabe, Chainsaw, et. al. -- they take all the credit for it, even stiffing the priests who do all the legwork.

And then a scandal hits. All of a sudden, Bishop alone isn't the church anymore -- conveniently enough, the church is everyone... who are now responsible to pick up the damage caused by the hubris of the few.

So Christian, right?

The archdiocese seemed to welcome the judgment making all its faithful defendants, because it means the court sees PDX as a "corporation aggregate" structure, therefore the parishes and other non-chancery properties can't be sold to pay for settlements. Some justice that is.

Look, if the people are going to be considered the church, it can't just be when the ship is sinking and the bosses need collateral cover. It has to be a consistent, substantive effort, else it's just another menu item in the cafeteria.



Blogger Disgusted in DC said...

In some dioceses, the parishes are unincorporated divisions of the Archdiocesan corporation sole. Other dioceses are structured differently: the parishes have their own separate corporate existence and have their own set of trustees. How is Spokane structured? If the former, the diocese has a difficult, though hardly impossible argument. If the latter, then the diocese should clearly win.

2/8/05 17:19  

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