Loading
Diocese to appeal court decision that parishes can be liquidated; claims breach of church/state separation
Facebook Twitter Google+ Pinterest Addthis

.- Bishop William Skylstad of Spokane, Washington has announced that his diocese will appeal a federal court ruling which, on Friday, declared all parishes in the diocese assets which can be liquidated to pay for claims by alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests. Bishop Skylstad, who also holds the post of president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement released from Eastern Europe, where he is currently traveling, that

"The court's decision has national consequences.”

“Its impact”, he said, “will be felt not just by Catholic communities but by many other church communities of any denomination, of any faith expression."

In December of last year, the diocese filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection citing $11.1 million in assets and $83.1 million in liabilities from abuse victims seeking compensation.

Diocesan parishes and schools were not included in that figure as, according to Canon Law, the bishop is only steward of them--the parishes themselves control their own actual assets.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Patricia Williams’ Friday decision however, ignores this fact, opining that civil property laws supersede Church law.

In her decision, Williams wrote, "It is not a violation of the First Amendment to apply federal bankruptcy law to identify and define property of the bankruptcy estate even though the Chapter 11 debtor is a religious organization."

Lawyers for, and supporters of the diocese however, disagree.

Bishop Skylstad wrote that he would "appeal this decision because we have a responsibility not only to victims but to the generations of parishioners ... who have given so generously of themselves" to build up the church in eastern Washington.

William Donahue, president of the Catholic League, called the ruling “outrageous,” saying that “At a minimum, separation of church and state means that sitting judges have no right to make determinations regarding the organizational chart of the Catholic Church. But that is exactly what’s being done.”

“By declaring all diocesan assets fair game for every steeple-chasing lawyer,” he continued, “a green light has been given to plunder the resources of the Catholic Church.”

Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google

Featured Videos

Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Little Sisters of the Poor press conference in Denver
Family thrilled to see Pope Francis in Istanbul
Syrian Refugee, Sara, 14, Before Meeting Pope
Ebola orphans thousands of children in West Africa
One year after Haiyan: Philippines rebuilds homes, lives
An Indian contribution to the Vatican's Synod on the Family
Christ Cathedral CNA video Sept 2014
Alejandro Bermudez of CNA accepts ice bucket challenge
'The Real Albania,' remembering those who fled
Pope Francis in Albania, "one of the most important visits of the post-communist era in Albania"
Pope Francis greets paralyzed man who risked all to see him
Franciscans on the banks of the Tiber in Rome, working for the New Evangelization
Pilgrimage from Czech Republic to Assisi and Rome for intentions
Testimony of young Indian who met Pope in Korea
Preparations of the Closing Mass of 6th Asian Youth Day
Missionary of Charity, Korea
Testimony of Christian Love during Pope's Visit to Korea
Religious Sisters in South Korea react to Pope Francis kissing a baby
Warm atmosphere during Holy Mass at Daejeon World Cup Stadium
Images inside Pope Francis flight to South Korea
Dec
19

Liturgical Calendar

December 19, 2014

Advent Weekday

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 21:23-27

Gospel
Date
12/15/14
12/14/14
12/13/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Judg 13: 2-7, 24-25A
Gospel:: Lk 1: 5-25

Saint of the Day

St. Romuald »

Saint
Date
12/15/14

Homily of the Day

Mt 21:23-27

Homily
Date
12/15/14
12/14/14
12/13/14