October 12, 2005

Suit names thousands of parishioners

The Oregonian

Wednesday, October 12, 2005
All but about 280 of the nearly 400,000 Roman Catholic parishioners in Western Oregon are now part of a class-action lawsuit that will determine who owns parish churches, schools and cemeteries within the Archdiocese of Portland.

The parishioners and parishes found themselves named in the rare defendant class action in July because of the archdiocese's argument that they -- not the archdiocese -- are the true owners of an estimated $500 million to $600 million in parish property.

The parishioners had until Oct. 3 to bail out of the suit, and about 280 filed the necessary paperwork.

The ownership question is crucial to the 15-month-old bankruptcy of the Portland archdiocese. If the parishes and parishioners are found to be the true owners, the property becomes off-limits to priest sexual-abuse claimants who are suing the archdiocese for hundreds of millions of dollars in damages.

If the archdiocese is found to be the owner, the parish property becomes fair game for paying off claims.

Posted by kshaw at October 12, 2005 12:37 PM