what fresh hell is this?

Some bishops apparently think that a priest paying a teenage boy for sex isn't serious, as long as the boy is not a parishioner.

I am just dying to read the depo transcript on this one, of which the Associated Press scored a copy, but I haven't found a website yet with the materials in full. The Globe's too busy now, I suppose.

happy to be proven wrong

It looks like the RCAB (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston to the uninitiated) did not file for bankruptcy today after all. God bless us, everyone.


a kinder, gentler goddess

The headers in all caps were starting to remind me too much of the briefs I write, six at last count this week alone. Bah, humbug. So I have decreed a style change.

I've also just signed up to get email Boston Globe headlines every morning. Their coverage really can't be beat.

It's really a pity that the Boston Herald isn't a little more web-savvy. In order to get its headlines mailed to me, I have to become a "subscriber," that is, it appears, pay money. I suppose they made a business decision not to set up a competing portal site to the Globe's fabulous abuse portal (I can't believe I just used that adjective to modify that noun), which I have praised before. But it's unfortunate that almost nobody has picked up on the Herald's three month's of sifting through records to cull out the current real estate holdings of the Roman Catholic Archbishop Of Boston, A Corporation Sole (not Law now, but the new guy, Peace Be Unto Him). So I'll publicize it again, and maybe my six readers will spread the message, just like the Alice's Restaurant Anti-Massacre Movement.


vow of poverty? i don't think so!

Nate Oman blogged recently, in response to my comments on Cardinal Law's mortgage, that my suspicions about bankruptcy were probably unfounded because of the priestly requirement of a vow of poverty, and that Cardinal Law probably didn't own any property of the archdiocese.

Interesting observation, but not entirely correct on either count. Not all priests take vows of poverty; only "religious" priests, as opposed to "diocesan" ones, do. I do not believe that Cardinal law is a "religious" priest, that is, a member of a religious order, judging by this biography/obituary-in-a-can that the Boston Globe lifted from the New York TImes (with proper attribution, of course). Furthermore, there is an entire chapter of canon law devoted to "religious raised to the episcopacy" which basically says that he could wiggle out of former obligations "that he prudently judges are not compatible with his condition." And under Massacusetts law, The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston basically owns the entire archdiocese as a corporation sole, one of those marvelously arcane legal entities they certainly didn't teach me about in law school. As an entity it appears to be much beloved of earnest but indiscriminate laypeople.

But that got me wondering--how much information about the Archdiocese of Boston's finances, and the assets held by the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston, A Corporation Sole, can be sussed out by one researcher in Seattle, even if she is a Dark Goddess of research as well as replevin? Well, here's another suggestion that under civil law the cardinal owns at least the real estate of the archdiocese personally. And it looks like a great deal of the legwork on this one has already been done by the Boston Herald. And here's an oddity--the most detailed description of the Herald article, which is not easily accessible on line, though there seems to be a reprint here--appears in the Pilot, the Archdiocese of Boston's newspaper. Somehow I don't think there's full financial disclosure on the Archdiocese's website.

Stay tuned.


expected or intended?

On the one hand, it's great that Goodwin Proctor LLP has reviewed the insurance coverage of the Archdiocese of Boston and determined that it has at least ninety mil in coverage.

On the other hand, in another lifetime I used to do coverage litigation for polluters ::cough:: policyholders.

Now, I have not read these policies, but there's usually an exclusion when the policyholder is reckless or otherwise substantially at fault in the events that are occurring. The documents that are now being released are so bad that they may impair the possibililty of coverage. And as I understand it, Goodwin Proctor has just reviewed the policies, not all the evidence of Law, et alia, in their management of rogue priests.

a modest proposal

Most lawyers who have been using email for a while cherish the virtual legal communities that legal listservs cultivate.

These communities should be protected from the terminally stupid.

Therefore, I propose that legal listserve participation be limited to those who can demonstrate a minimum required level of intellligence.

Specifically, any lawyer who uses an out-of-the-office autorespond message to reply to mailing list messages should not be allowed to post to a list. I even question whether they should be trusted with a computer.

update 1-15-2003

It is not true that I have made serious death threats against lawyers who misuse their autoresponders in this fashion. It was a joke, I swear it.


how appalling

In all the furor about the Archdiocese of Boston threatening to file for bankruptcy, there's a piece that's been missing from the discussion.

Back on September 27, 2002, Cardinal Law mortgaged his house to pay off the Archdiocese's line of credit.

Why am I in a lather about this? Well, it smacks of bankruptcy planning to me. A person can exempt from distribution to creditors in a bankruptcy generally only a limited amout of home equity (except in bankruptcy havens like Texas and Florida, where one has an unlimited exemption). So usually, if you have a valuable house, you have to give it up to your creditors to pay your debts. But if you take out a mortgage on the house before your bankruptcy to extract and use up the equity, say by paying current operating expenses for an archdiocese (there's a preference issue if you retire old debts with the money, or make payments within 90 days of the bankruptcy), you get to keep your mortgaged house, 'cause there's no equity. And as debtor-in-possession you get to make your big mortgage payments.

Are you thinking, who lends money to institutions on the brink of bankruptcy? Well, if you're a Catholic archdiocese, the answer to that question is the Knights of Columbus. The Knights' website says that "For more than 100 years the Knights of Columbus has provided financing for church development projects. The loans are available to dioceses, parishes, catholic schools and hospitals or any other Catholic facility. Once a loan is approved it can be used to replace a bank construction loan. These loans not only offer attractive rates, but also feature maturities up to 20 years. There are no points and no hidden charges. You will need the following prior to the application process: approval and guarantee of the loan by your diocese or religious order and sufficient real estate so that the loan-to-value amount does not exceed 75%. The Knights will also consider unsecured loans."

Of course, all this assumes that Bernard Cardinal Law files for personal bankruptcy, and not the Archdiocese of Boston, but it is not clear to me yet--probably because I (1) haven't researched it; (2) am not hip to canon law--to what extent an archdiocese owns property separately from the cardinal, archibishop or other sentient mammal in leadership, and the effect of the corporation sole. My readership--at last count, six--is urged to check back as I research this further. Constance Sweeney--peace be unto her!!--appears to think that canon law is irrelevant when it comes to sheltering the AD.

What's the link to technology here? Well, back in the day when the Paula Jones complaint was passed around in xerox copy, which is how I read it months later, the information from which the reasonably informed can draw inferences is available much faster. And the truth--but what is truth?--must out all the faster.

So my hunch is that the thought of bankruptcy is NOT a new one for Cardinal Law...lessee...ninety days from 9/27/2002 is... 12/26/2002. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night.

Do not go gentle.