In issuing the ruling Monday, U.S. District Judge Rudolph T. Randa said including the funds would violate free exercise of religion under the First Amendment and a 1993 law aimed at protecting religious freedom. Randa cited the Catholic belief in the resurrection, which teaches that the body ultimately reunites with the soul, and the role of Catholic cemeteries in the exercise of that belief under canon law.
“The sacred nature of Catholic cemeteries – and compliance with the church’s historical and religious traditions and mandates requiring their perpetual care – are understood as a fundamental exercise of this core belief,” said Randa in overturning an earlier decision by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Susan V. Kelley.
The decision was a major victory for the archdiocese, and appears to eliminate one of the last large assets available to sex abuse victims who have filed claims in the bankruptcy.
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