Thursday, February 01, 2007

Vancouver Island Diocese Finally Gets a Break

Thanks, God. Prayers answered in a serious way. It looks like the ordeal might finally be over. This means the diocese does not have to worry about selling off any more land or closing any churches. Hopefully Mr. Finley accepts the court's ruling and gets on with his life.
Carolyn Heiman, Times ColonistPublished: Thursday, February 01, 2007
The Catholic Diocese of Victoria got some good news yesterday when it
learned an $8.5-million judgment made against it in 2005 has been
overturned. The decision of the Washington State Court of Appeals
possibly signals the near end of a two-decade-long saga that cost the
diocese millions, forced the church to sell off property and borrow money
from parishioners. The events happened after an investment involving an
Arabian horse venture and a land project in Washington soured.
In a unanimous decision, the Washington court reversed a
judgment made against the diocese in June 2005 after Seattle lawyer Joseph
Finley, who brought the diocese into the horse and land deal, sued for breach of
contract. According to a news release issued by the diocese, the higher
Washington court ruled that the diocese did not violate any duty to Finley,
and does not owe him any money, and that the case should have been dismissed
and never should have been presented to a jury.
Bishop Richard Gagnon was unavailable for comment. In a news release, he said: "This issue has diverted our attention for too long. I am hopeful that we, in the Catholic community on the Vancouver Island, can soon put this unfortunate incident behind us."
The court case was triggered when the diocese stopped
interest payments on the property in Lacey, Wash., and the land went into
receivership. At one point the diocese was paying $200,000 monthly interest
on the debt. To eliminate the debt, the diocese launched a fundraising
campaign, issuing bonds at six per cent interest. Last fall, it paid off the
debentures. The diocese also sold off several properties on Vancouver
Island, raising $8 million. Finley could seek a review of the decision by
the Washington State Supreme Court. He could not be reached last night for
comment. It's not known how much the litigation has cost the diocese or
how much it remains in debt. Lawyer Paul Bundon, representing the diocese,
said he expects the bishop will give a full accounting to parishioners.
"Obviously the judgment has very much improved their financial
© Times Colonist (Victoria) 2007

No comments: