The Diocese of Spokane and the diocesan Association of Parishes (AOP) have filed separate appeals of a federal bankruptcy court decision that would have allowed churches to be sold to pay for settlements of sex-abuse cases, reported the Seattle Times.
Judge Patricia Williams ruled Aug. 26 that parish churches are owned by the diocese and can be sold to pay settlements to sex-abuse victims.
In its appeal Sept. 6, the diocese argued that Judge Williams erred by not giving canon law sufficient weight in determining parish ownership and by not considering all the evidence offered by the diocese about who owns parish churches, said the diocese’s attorney Shaun Cross.
The AOP is a separate organization, created by pastors and parish administrators of the diocese last fall. It includes all parishes in the diocese. The primary work of the AOP is to work in collaboration of the diocese and to defend of the canonical independence of parishes and their assets.