October 21, 2005

Nearly All of Western Oregon's Catholics Named in Lawsuit


By Steve Woodward
Religion News Service

Portland, Ore., Oct. 20 - All but about 280 of the nearly 400,000 Roman Catholic parishioners in Western Oregon are 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 were 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.

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, and is being closely watched for legal ramifications involving church properties nationwide. 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.

Posted by kshaw at October 21, 2005 08:45 AM