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Portland Archdiocese Bankrupt

On July 6, Archbishop John G. Vlazny announced he will file chapter eleven bankruptcy protection for the Portland Archdiocese. Vlazny said he had no choice because he faces $155 million in two new sex abuse suits. Over the past four years, the archdiocese paid out $53 million to settle over 100 sex abuse claims. Portland is the first Catholic diocese to declare bankruptcy. Chapter eleven may allow the archdiocese to pay less than if each abuse case was tried separately. The action is widely regarded as highly risky since parish assets could also be calculated as part of the archdiocesan net worth. Vlazny says canon law does not give him control over parish assets because they belong to the parish, not the diocese. However the bankruptcy court could view things differently. According to Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese, “this case is going to establish some precedents that are going to touch every diocese in the country.”(National Catholic Reporter, 7/30/2004)

Fall 2004



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