Wednesday, December 04, 2002

The Bankruptcy of the Archdiocese of Boston-and I'm Not Just Talking Chapter 11-It looks like more than homosexual priests with a taste for boys were being covered up; some who thanked Heaven for little girls or for coca byproducts were looked after as well. This could get very ugly, as one could easily see the Archdiocese having to sell all its assets and hold services in tents if all the lawsuits that will result come to fruition. The idea of going into Chapter 11 has its problems, as a bankruptcy judge would then be in charge of managing church finances, which creates some interesting church-state issues. Here's a possible solution, if the church's assets are needed to pay all the legal bills-put the current assets (or a large chunk of those assets) of the Archdiocese, including title to the church buildings, in a trust fund. The trust fund will then be the landlord of the buildings, with the church paying market rent to the fund and have priority for renting the buildings. If, after all the cases are settled, there are remaining assets, then the church would get back what is left in the fund. The fund could sell off some of the church property, setting up one or more real estate investment trusts to own the buildings, with the proviso that the current church occupants have rental priority and a veto over demolition or renovation. The capital raised from selling off the church assets would then be available to pay off any claims. A master settlement might have to be made to divide the assets between the claimants. Under this agreement, the Archdiocese gets to run its affairs, paying rent on its former properties if it wishes, or moving to new locales if it desires. The trust fund then can pay off the claimants with the money from the sale of properties. That would allow the bills to be paid without having a judge micromanage the Archdiocese.

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