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Bill shelved by Nova Scotia legislature is no attempt to hide assetsofficial

first_imgHALIFAX – A church official says there was nothing “nefarious” about a proposed bill to reorganize the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth that was shelved by a committee of the Nova Scotia legislature after concerns from a lawyer representing sexual abuse victims.The local and private bills committee deferred the bill Tuesday after Halifax lawyer John McKiggan expressed concerns the bill would allow the archdiocese to divest itself of assets and place them into sub-corporations held by individual parishes.McKiggan, who represents hundreds of sexual assault victims who were abused by priests, said the change would make it harder for survivors to be able to receive “just and fair compensation for their injuries.”In an interview Wednesday, the chancellor of the archdiocese, deacon Bob Britton, said there is no attempt to hide assets from potential legal action.“First of all under the church rules the bishop can’t do that,” said Britton. “And if he did that then the question would be: How much longer would he be the bishop?”He said lawyers have also told the church that the courts have already determined that the archdiocese and individual parishes would be responsible for any future claims of sexual abuse.“The unintended consequences that are alluded to are simply not there,” he said.Britton said the intent of the bill is to recognize in civil law what is already a church reality in that each parish is an entity “unto itself,” while still joined with the archdiocese.“The claims of a kind of nefarious motives I assure you — they are not there,” said Britton.A lawyer for the archdiocese also told the committee that the bill’s intent wasn’t to shelter assets.The bill came before a committee that often deals with bills that are of local concern and are largely uncontroversial.But Premier Stephen McNeil said Tuesday the committee did the right thing in deferring the bill so the government can review it to ensure there are no unintended consequences that would result from it.In 2012, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Antigonish in Nova Scotia agreed to a $16-million compensation settlement for 125 confirmed and alleged victims of sexual abuse.The diocese put about 150 properties up for sale. More than 100 parishes were drained of their savings.last_img read more

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