Spokane Churches Can Be Sold To Pay Debt, Judge Rules

A judge has ruled that Spokane parish churches and schools belong to the diocese and can be sold as part as bankruptcy proceedings.

seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002454082_bankrupt27m.html

[quote=Courtneyjo]A judge has ruled that Spokane parish churches and schools belong to the diocese and can be sold as part as bankruptcy proceedings.

seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002454082_bankrupt27m.html
[/quote]

Courtney Jo,

'Tis tragic that the question ever had to come up. But the true treasures of the Church are in her people. St. Laurence showed that to the Roman Emperor some centuries ago.

  • Liberian

[quote=Courtneyjo]A judge has ruled that Spokane parish churches and schools belong to the diocese and can be sold as part as bankruptcy proceedings.

seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2002454082_bankrupt27m.html
[/quote]

Since the Vatican ruled recently that the Parishes belong to the Parishioners, whatever happened to separation of Church and State? Though I sympathize with the victims, no amount of money will compensate for their suffering and Catholic lay people were not to blame. Why should they have to suffer.

[quote=Elizabeth2]Since the Vatican ruled recently that the Parishes belong to the Parishioners, whatever happened to separation of Church and State? Though I sympathize with the victims, no amount of money will compensate for their suffering and Catholic lay people were not to blame. Why should they have to suffer.
[/quote]

I agree with your sentiments. I don’t know how it has come to this. Who advised the bishops that bankruptcy was the way out of this mess?

But I don’t understand how Canon Law can apply to a civil bankruptcy lawsuit. Parishes are not diocesan property, yet a bishop can order a parish in his diocese to close. I don’t know what is done with the proceeds if a church is then sold by the diocese.

As for separation of Church and State, no such words appear in the U.S. Constitution. It’s the Establishment Clause, stating that no State religion shall be established.

Portland is next, there is much more property at stake, and all of the parishioners are defendants.

First, let me start by saying that I am a devout Catholic, a member of the Diocese of Spokane and an attorney. Though, I am not counsel for any of the parties involved in the bankruptcy proceedings. Second, our particular diocese had claims against the diocese which far exceeded the diocese’s assets. Thus, bankruptcy was and is a not only an intelligent choice but also the most responsible choice for the diocese if it wants to ensure that all claimants with viable claims will recieve some compensation. Finally, if you want to read the legal basis for all of the parties’ arguments, follow this link dioceseofspokane.org/Chapter11/Chapter%2011_%20Estate%20Pleadings.htm and start reading. There are very interesting arguments from both sides. Although, not surprisingly, I think that the Court got it wrong. Also, not surprisingly, this decision will certainly be appealed and the Bishop has stated as much. The decision is far from being a done deal.

God bless.

I pray that this horrific problem is resolved without the dissolution of Church property. I cannot imagine how the destroying of the Church can help anyone. Yes, we must try to help the injured, however, I hope that the injured do not take out hostility on the entire church. It would seem that if the injured succeed in stripping the Spokane area of all property, churches, schools, etc., they will suffer from another very grave problem. GUILT.

Love and peace

Mom of 5

" I don’t understand how Canon Law can apply to a civil bankruptcy lawsuit. Parishes are not diocesan property, yet a bishop can order a parish in his diocese to close. I don’t know what is done with the proceeds if a church is then sold by the diocese."

This report was on the EWTN News for August 11. The full report is still o n their website.

VATICAN BARS BOSTON ARCHDIOCESE SEIZURE OF PARISH ASSETS
Boston, Aug. 11 (CWNews.com) - In a ruling that presents new complications for a sweeping reconfiguration plan in the Boston archdiocese, the Vatican has ruled that the archdiocese cannot unilaterally claim the assets of parishes that have been closed.

The Vatican decision affects not only the Boston archdiocese-- where it could delay parish closings-- but also other American dioceses that are seeking bankruptcy protection in federal courts. The decision addresses the hotly disputed topic: whether parish assets belong to the diocese, or must be considered separate.

In response to canonical protests filed by parishioners of several closed parishes, the Congregation for the Clergy said that parish assets cannot be seized by the archdiocese, and can be turned over to the archdiocese only with the consent of the pastors and their parish finance councils.

Obviously churches can be sold.
Churches are property of the Diocese. If the diocese needs to liquidate property for cash to pay settlements and suits… well of course they can be made to sell the churches.
Yes, it is horrid, but what can you do?

The Bishop put his diocese under the authority of the Bankruptcy court.Last time I looked the bishop was an american subject to the laws of the USA.
The Vatican can give him orders, a judge can force him to disobey them or go to jail.
Catholics fought long and hard to prove they were Americans. Nothing is going to change that !

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.