Settlements in Portland, Spokane

By Newall, Mike | National Catholic Reporter, February 16, 2007 | Go to article overview

Settlements in Portland, Spokane


Newall, Mike, National Catholic Reporter


Recent financial settlements filed in the bitter and drawn-out bankruptcy proceedings in the Portland, Ore., archdiocese and the Spokane, Wash., diocese will compensate victims of priestly sexual abuse while allowing both dioceses to emerge financially intact. By pursuing bankruptcy reorganization, both dioceses avoided dozens of civil trials that would have likely resulted in hundreds of millions in payouts, testimony by high-ranking church officials about their roles in the sexual abuse cover-up, and the public release of thousands of pages of secret church documents.

Spokane and Portland became focal points in the fallout of the Catholic church scandals over the last two years, as legal battles tackling such issues as parish ownership and individual culpability played out in court hearings, parish hall gatherings and backroom board meetings.

The issue of parish ownership--whether individual churches and schools are owned by a diocese and therefore collateral in any settlement--loomed largest in both bankruptcy proceedings. The dioceses argued that individual parishes owned the property, but judges in both cases ruled that the dioceses, and not parishioners, are sole owners of the schools and church buildings.

The dispute over ownership drew bitter reactions from parishioners and victims. "There are no warm and fuzzy feelings here," Tim Kosnoff, an attorney who represents 101 Spokane victims, said last summer as mediation talks once again stalled. "With an exception of maybe one or two people, I don't think any of my clients would lose sleep over a parish being bulldozed and replaced with a 24-hour fitness center."

Indeed, priests and parishioners in both dioceses fretted that their diocese could be the first to be liquated since the sex scandals erupted in 2002.

"I've heard the phrase 'death spiral' quite a number of times," Fr. Edgar Borchardt, pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Pullman, Wash., said during an interview last summer. "There's a growing belief that something cataclysmic could occur."

But according to the outlined agreements released by Spokane and Portland church officials, diocesan insurance carriers will account for major portions of both payouts, and only a handful of parishes will serve as collateral.

"You don't like to say there are winners or losers in these cases," said Charles Zech, an expert in church finance at Pennsylvania's Villanova University. "But compared to what could have been the worse case scenario--huge settlements and the sale of parish properties affecting the worship life of the diocese--there's no doubt about it, the church made out very well in both these cases."

In July 2004, Portland became the first American archdiocese to take the step of filing for Chapter 11 Reorganization in Federal Bankruptcy Court as a result of the sex abuse scandals. According to federal law, the diocese had to submit a reorganization plan, which included financial settlements with all sexual abuse victims, before it could emerge from bankruptcy. If settlements could not be reached, a federal judge could dissolve the bankruptcy and creditors would head back into state court.

Archbishop John G. Vlazny entered the archdiocese into bankruptcy just as two civil trials seeking hundreds of millions in financial settlements over alleged clerical sex abuse were set to begin. Finally, in December of last year, U.S. District Court Judge Michael Hogan, one of the two mediators assigned to the Portland case, outlined a $75 million plan that would compensate more than 150 victims. Archdiocesan insurance carriers will cover nearly $.52 million of the proposed settlement, with the rest of the settlement being funded by archdiocesan controlled assets--not including Portland's 124 Catholic schools and churches. The settlement plan was filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court Dec. 18.

Some 20 victims have yet to agree to the settlement and may still pursue civil trials. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Settlements in Portland, Spokane
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Author Advanced search

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.