May 09, 2005

Oregon parishes fight for bankrupt diocese's assets

Belleville News-Democrat

Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. - Roman Catholic parishes and schools are competing with alleged victims of clerical sex abuse to claim assets held by the Archdiocese of Portland, the first in the country to file for bankruptcy because of abuse settlements.

Court records show that about 340 claims, totaling $198 million, were made on the archdiocese by the April 29 deadline set by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Elizabeth Perris.

The attorneys listed in the documents and the large sums sought suggest about 150 of those claims may be related to sex abuse. Because many of the claims are sealed and don't have a specific amount listed, church officials believe they could surpass $530 million.

The rest of the claims, however, have no clear ties to sex abuse allegations, with at least 37 churches and parochial schools among the claimants, seeking about $115,000.

The archdiocese is responsible for 124 Catholic parishes and more than 50 schools in western Oregon, the most populous part of the state. Investment funds and other money the archdiocese has held for them were frozen by the bankruptcy filing.

Posted by kshaw at May 9, 2005 07:20 AM