Archdiocese surrenders deeds in abuse settlement
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Portland is handing over property deeds to its parishes in a move to make them legally independent, part of a bankruptcy settlement the archdiocese reached last year with victims of sex abuse by priests.
Each parish will be reorganized into a nonprofit “member corporation” with a five-person board of directors.
The archdiocese argued in federal bankruptcy court that church real estate belonged to the parishes, not the archdiocese. The reorganization will spell that out legally.
The victims argued the real estate could be sold to meet settlement claims against the archdiocese.
Archbishop John Vlazny outlined the plan in a letter to parishioners recently distributed in churches.
“Most parishioners will not notice any difference in the life of the parish as a result of the restructuring,” he wrote.
Parishes will receive the legal titles of their real property, including churches, schools and meetings halls by the end of the month.
Critics, however, claim the new structure is meant to shield the property from future lawsuits.
“Once again, the church attempts to deceive the rank and file into believing they have some control,” said Bill Crane, director of Oregon Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “At the end of the day, when all is said and done, it’s the bishops and the hierarchy who do.”
Muslim group requests inquiry
ST. PAUL, Minn. — An Islamic advocacy group has asked police and the FBI to investigate reported threats against a Twin Cities charter school attended by many Muslims.
The Council on AmericanIslamic Relations made the request after the director of Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy in Inver Grove Heights, a Twin Cities suburb, told police that he and the school had received threatening and harassing phone messages and e-mails.
The school said the threats began after a newspaper columnist questioned whether the publicly funded K-8 school promotes Islam.
Chris Schumacher, a spokesman for the Minnesota chapter of CAIR, called it “a sad reflection” of the level anti-Muslim feeling has reached in U.S. society that the column has apparently resulted in “hatred directed at innocent students.”
Identifying the threats as possible hate crimes makes it clear that prejudice could have prompted them, and “we wanted to bring that to light in case that wasn’t already obvious to people,” he said.
Police said they are investigating. Special Agent Paul McCabe of the Minneapolis FBI office said agents will contact the school to get more details. He said identifying the messages as possible hate crimes would put them under the jurisdiction of federal investigators.
Catholic archbishop bans lawyer
ST. LOUIS — A prominent Roman Catholic priest and canon lawyer, who says he has been helping those “harmed by the institutional Catholic Church” since 1985 and counseling an ethnic Polish church here, has been banned from working in the St. Louis archdiocese.
St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke issued a decree charging the Rev. Thomas Doyle with two “canonical crimes” related to his defense of two excommunicated board members of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church.
The decree states Doyle, a Dominican priest and canon lawyer based in Virginia, did not receive prior approval from Burke to represent the board members or immediately respond to Burke’s summons to appear before him.