Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302
Diocese announces Chapter 11 Plan of Reorganization
by Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor, Inland Register
(From the Oct. 20, 2005 edition of the Inland Register)
At a press conference the afternoon of Oct. 10, diocesan officials released what is expected to be the first draft of the diocese’s Plan of Reorganization, the most recent step in the Chapter 11 proceeding.
Speaking at the press conference were Father Steve Dublinski, vicar general, and Shaun Cross, one of the attorneys representing the diocese in the Chapter 11.
Bishop Skylstad is in Rome, participating in the Synod on the Eucharist. (Note: See page 5 of this issue for his report on that event.) Father Dublinski addressed the media on his behalf, reading a statement from the bishop.
“Our plan of seeks to accomplish the twin goals I set forth when the Chapter 11 case was filed last December,” wrote Bishop Skylstad. “We want just treatment of the claims of those who have been harmed in the past, as we continue the Catholic Church’s ministry in Eastern Washington.”
The plan has been posted on the diocese’s web site: http://www. dioceseofspokane.org; click on “Chapter 11 Reorganization.”
Released with the plan was the diocese’s disclosure statement, as well as exhibits giving additional information supporting the two documents, including audits.
Those documents also are available on the web site.
At first glance, the plan may appear lacking in detail. That is by design, said Shaun Cross.
He termed this draft of the plan a “framework” for the eventual resolution of all claims. More information will be added and inserted as the Chapter 11 process continues and resolution is reached – for instance, settlement figures as they are agreed upon.
“I think everyone (involved in the case) wants resolution,” said Cross.
Much of the plan is taken up defining terms, including classifications of various kinds of claims, types of parish property, and so on.
In order to fund settlements, unrestricted assets will be sold. Cross specifically mentioned Bishop Skylstad’s residence and the Catholic Pastoral Center.
Sale of Bishop White Seminary also was mentioned.
According to Father Darrin Connall, rector of Bishop White, plans now call for the present seminary to be sold to Gonzaga University. The seminary will continue to operate as usual, however.
The campaign to build a new seminary – “Here I Am, Lord” – will continue. When the pledges have been paid to that campaign, construction will begin on the present property. In time, the diocese will then buy the property back from Gonzaga University, said Father Connall.
Other property in the diocese, however, is still a subject of contention.
This past summer, Judge Patricia Williams ruled that parishes and other entities belonged to the diocese and were therefore available for settlements. The diocese is appealing that ruling.
Wrote Bishop Skylstad, “It is our belief that several key property issues were not addressed by that ruling.” Among those issues is ownership of the parishes. “The plan we’ve filed today creates a general framework that can serve as the basis for the resolution of all the claims against the diocese, while taking into consideration the uncertainty regarding many of the property issues.”
Since the appeal is still in process, sales of parishes, schools, and similar properties were not included in the Reorganization Plan.
Those with claims against the diocese “don’t want to harm parishes and schools,” Cross said.
The Spokane Diocese Plan was modeled on the Reorganization Plan recently approved for the Diocese of Tucson. Parish properties were not considered property of the estate in the Tucson case.