Somebody's confused here

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles ) | Nov 12, 2004

Michael Miller, who handles business affairs for the Spokane diocese, explained to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that the diocese could not have avoided bankruptcy by selling off parish properties.

... Miller described each parish as a separate entity -- in other words, not part of the diocese's budget. Church law, he added, holds that a bishop cannot sell parish property for diocesan purposes.

Um, Mr. Miller, do you suppose you'd have time for a cup of coffee with Archbishop Sean O'Malley, who is selling off parish properties by the dozen?

Phil Lawler has been a Catholic journalist for more than 30 years. He has edited several Catholic magazines and written eight books. Founder of Catholic World News, he is the news director and lead analyst at See full bio.

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  • Posted by: - Nov. 14, 2004 11:22 PM ET USA

    Boston - your analysis underscores the ridiculous nature of Mr. Miller's comments.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 13, 2004 6:35 PM ET USA

    Minidoc, what in the world do you think the archbishop of Boston and his minions are doing with this reorganization? Even when two parishes are combined, all of the assets of the closed parish revert to the diocese. Perfectly healthy, vibrant parishes are being closed and what they have in common is lots of money in the bank and large tracts of property that is worth a king's ransom (or a bishop's soul).

  • Posted by: - Nov. 13, 2004 3:08 AM ET USA

    This seems pretty logical to me. The diocese can't just loot a parish to pay for court settlements. But the bishop can close a parish and then confiscate the property, sell it and give the proceeds to the court. This could be used to great advantage! Perhaps the principle could be applied first in LA. A new archbishop can take over and "close" the "cathedral" and sell it to the Moonies or the Dalai Lama or Barbara Streisand.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Nov. 12, 2004 6:24 PM ET USA

    Nobody in San Francisco doubts that the Archbishop is in charge. John Quinn closed half a dozen parishes before he retired (properly in my view). It would have cost many millions to make them earthquake-safe and they were 'way too small to justify it. Nobody in those parishes offered to come up with the dough because the churches "belonged to them". The parishoners of one (who might have been able to raise enough) appealed to the Vatican and lost.

  • Posted by: - Nov. 12, 2004 6:20 PM ET USA

    In our midwest diocese, not only did the Bishop sell off properties to pay off out of court settlements on the former bishop, he then bought the former bishop a house in a very nice neighborhood. (That made news when there was a domestic dispute at the house.) The Bishop then raised the Diocesen tax for each remaining parish stating that with fewer parishes he would need more support from the remaining. The question asked is "Why should the parishes support when they could be the next to close?"

  • Posted by: - Nov. 12, 2004 5:20 PM ET USA

    Exactly right. The East Coast cannot claim and act like the individual parishes are the chancery office's to dispose of while the Left Coast tries to claim that the parish properties are merely held in trust for them by the diocese without the claimants being considered schizophrenic by the courts. Will the real Catholic Church please stand up? And who is kidding whom? The Bishops are salvaging their hides by letting the courts loot the parishoners. Where do Bishops thing they get any money