Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Church gets flayed by 'corporation sole' status

More like filet of corporation sole.

Among those interviewed by Mary DeTurris Poust in Our Sunday Visitor was Law professor William Bassett of the University of San Francisco.

"Unfortunately, in the United States, the bishops have really kind of overridden the protection that canon law gives to the parishes by incorporating the entire diocese as a corporation sole or as a trustee corporation," said Bassett. "In effect, they are acting as if they owned the parishes, and that is clear when parishes are merged or parishes are suppressed."

He added that bankruptcy court, under the First Amendment, cannot interpret canon law, but only the "civil-law structure" of an individual diocese.

In addition, he said that because civil court will view the bankruptcy proceedings as voluntary and because people can go to other parishes to worship, the courts are not likely to view the taking of parishes as a violation of the free exercise of religion.

Each Wisconsin parish is a separate corporation, which would make it harder for creditors of the Archdiocese to argue that parish assets should be subject to their claims.


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