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Judge: Bankruptcy applies to all Puerto Rico Catholic churches

By on September 7, 2018

SAN JUAN – Federal bankruptcy Judge Edward Godoy decided Friday that Archdiocese of San Juan’s bankruptcy filing applies to all Catholic churches in Puerto Rico.

This means that both the Archdiocese of Mayagüez and that of Ponce can also get relief from chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Both archdioceses had requested a halt to the seizure of their assets to pay pensions to teachers of retired Catholic schools who had sued the Archdiocese of San Juan.

The Supreme Court of Puerto Rico had already decided that the church was a single entity to which the embargo applied. The Archdiocese of San Juan filed for bankruptcy to prevent the seizure of its assets.

Meanwhile, Godoy noted that the bankruptcy application applied to all churches unless one had incorporated.

For the reasons stated in open court, taking into account the arguments raised by the attorneys for the plaintiff, the defendants, and Banco Popular de Puerto Rico, the court finds that the Arquidiocesis de San Juan de Puerto Rico (as per docket number 14 of the main bankruptcy case, also known as Iglesia Catolica Apostolica y Romana, Arquidiocesis de San Juan de Puerto Rico, Roman Catholic Church in Puerto Rico, Arzobispado de San Juan) is, for the purposes of this bankruptcy filing, the same ‘juristic personality’ recognized as the ‘Roman Catholic Church’ of Porto [sic] Rico,” the decision reads.

Godoy coincided with a recent Supreme Court ruling, which established that, to the extent the entities created by the Catholic Church serve as “alter egos” or entities “doing business as” of the church without independently having incorporated, they constitute “indivisible fragments” of the Catholic Church, of the legal personality of the Roman Catholic Church in Puerto Rico,
“lacking legal or juridical personality.”

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