Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Church-State Digest

With the usual Advent quiet beginning to take hold of the church scene, two stories of note have cropped up on the ad extra front.

First, in the latest round of a yearlong dispute over the archdiocese of San Francisco's liability for taxes on property transferred from one church entity to another, a city tax board ruled unanimously against the chancery yesterday in a judgment that could have a nearly $15 million price tag for the church:
The panel determined that the church, in moving properties from one Catholic nonprofit corporation to another, was required to pay property transfer taxes. The taxes are collected when properties are sold or transferred to a separate and distinct legal entity.

The archdiocese maintains that the transfers were not subject to the tax because they were part of an internal reorganization to create "simple ownership models" for schools, parishes and the larger archdiocese.

Ting, however, disagreed and said the corporations involved in the transactions have different boards of directors and are legally separate.

A church spokesman called the ruling disappointing and suggested it may have been motivated by greed and politics.

"The board members, all of whom are City Hall administrators rather than members of the judiciary, apparently faced tremendous pressure in view of the city's desperate need for revenue," said Maurice Healy, spokesman for the archdiocese.

The city faces a $550 million projected deficit over the next 1 1/2 years.
So today's Chronicle report added, the fight "is headed to court."

And back East, having lost a seven-year court fight that went to the nation's highest bench, Connecticut's Bridgeport diocese is slated to release some 12,000 pages of documentation on clergy sex-abuse cases today.