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Diocese officially on new footing

Sat., June 2, 2007

Bishop William Skylstad and other church officials signed documents for 11 hours Thursday and wired $20 million to a special trust – actions that allowed the Spokane Catholic Diocese to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

The diocese now has essentially a clean slate, enabling it to continue its ministry in Eastern Washington, diocese attorney Shaun Cross said Friday.

From here on, the special trust established in the bankruptcy settlement will administer the mechanics of the reorganization plan, including deciding how much to pay people who were sexually abused by Catholic clergy.

The hundreds of documents signed Thursday transformed all 82 parishes in 13 counties into stand-alone nonprofit corporations.

Determining the ownership and control of the parishes was a dominant issue in the bankruptcy.

Money wired to the special trust is just part of the $48 million the diocese has pledged to provide in the settlement, which was approved in April.

The parishes still owe the trust $10 million and the bishop will raise $6 million, money that is expected to be transferred by the end of the year. The rest of the money is expected to be raised through property sales and commitments from other Catholic organizations.

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