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Who owns parish real estate?

In Oregon, where the Roman Catholic archdiocese is in bankruptcy and its assets subject to seizure, the archdiocese claims that parish church buildings and land are the property of the individual parishes, and therefore cannot be seized from the parishes by the court ("Oregon Archbishop Resists Church Property Ruling," AU Bulletin, February Church & State).

In Boston, where the archdiocese has lost court cases to and made settlements with victims of priestly sexual abuse that require payment of many millions of dollars, the archdiocese claims that parish church buildings and land are the property of the archdiocese, and therefore can be seized from the parishes by the archdiocese and sold. (The archdiocese, of course, treats this money as fungible, usable for settlements or any other church purpose as it desires.)

What is the church law?

Joel Berson

Arlington, Mass.
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Author:Berson, Joel
Publication:Church & State
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Date:May 1, 2006
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