SSPX Deal: But Will the Fat Lady Sing? — article by Fr. Cekada
(04-19-2012, 05:05 PM)FatherCekada Wrote: Actually, as a result of the lawsuits with SSPX, I became very familiar with how the civil law treats church property ownership in the U.S.

For the Catholic Church, the legal principle courts apply is "deference to hierarchy." If someone who represents the hierarchy of the Catholic Church (a diocesan bishop appointed by the pope or the head of a Catholic religious order) says that, under Catholic canon law, Father Smith has the right to be Pastor of St. Mary's Church or Sister Caroline has the right to be Superior of St. Felicia's Convent, the court will automatically award control of St. Mary's to Fr. Smith and of St. Felicia's to Sr. Caroline.

The pope, of course, is the head of this hierarchy, and under canon law, he can remove diocesan bishops and superiors general and appoint replacements, so he has the last say-so over who controls properties. U.S. courts respect this.

This is not an accurate synopsis of property law in the U.S. 

Real property ownership is determined by the person/persons or entity/entities named on a properly recorded deed. 

A bishop that is not on a deed does not own the property listed thereon.  Thus, even though he has the right to appoint pastors, unless the bishop is on the deed to a church property, no court in this country would award control of the property to him in the event of a dispute among parties.

In Saint Louis, Cardinal Burke found that out the hard way in the Saint Stanislaus Kostka parish dispute.  There was no deference given to his authority, and the archdiocese has no control over that parish property.

Quote:So if Benedict XVI or one of his successors decided that the head of SSPX was insufficiently cooperative, he could remove him (as JP2 did with Fr. Bisig, the FSSP Superior General). All SSPX property would then automatically come under the control of whomever the Holy See appointed to be the new Superior General.  Bp. Fellay or lay people who disagreed with the decision and wanted to go their own way could not take the properties with them.

The bolded section is not accurate either.  If,say, Father Bisig were the owner, in his own name, of all the FSSP property here in the U.S., and the pope removed him from his office, the pope's action would have no effect on the fact that Father Bisig is the owner of the property, and there is no one that could take that property from Father Bisig unless, A, it's encumbered and he stops paying on the note; B, he owes taxes on it and he stops paying the taxes; C, eminent domain; D, somebody executes on the property in order to satisfy a judgment against Father Bisig.

There are many avenues the SSPX could use to protect real estate in the event of some type of default on the part of Vatican officials, with Possibility of Reverter coming quickly to mind.

I'm an attorney.

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Re: SSPX Deal: But Will the Fat Lady Sing? — article by Fr. Cekada - by DJR - 04-20-2012, 12:02 AM

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