Saturday, January 25, 2003

Wondering what happened to the possibility of bankruptcy in Boston? The Globe says it knows.

Just before Law resigned on Dec. 13, the Vatican gave conditional permission for a bankruptcy filing, but wanted to solicit the views of other US cardinals and bishops before reaching a final decision, one archdiocesan adviser said yesterday. The adviser asked that he not be identified.

Immediately, several influential US cardinals and bishops objected, according to this adviser and others who are familiar with the issue. The adviser and others said the prelates expressed concerns that a bankruptcy filing by the fourth largest American archdiocese would prompt a serious falloff in donations across the country, damage the church's reputation, and create an ominous precedent by opening the church's secret financial records to public view. No American diocese has ever filed for bankruptcy.

The loudest objections have been raised by Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles, whose own archdiocese is in serious financial straits. Yesterday, according to the Associated Press, Mahony announced that the Los Angeles archdiocese will close its four-year undergraduate seminary amid a falloff in donations.

The Boston archdiocesan adviser said most of the bishops and cardinals who had opposed a bankruptcy filing have subsequently withdrawn their objections. Cardinal Adam J. Maida of Detroit, who is both a civil and canon lawyer, has been studying the issue on behalf of the other bishops. Boston church officials hope the Vatican will soon give its final approval for the filing.

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