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The Roman Catholic Diocese of Duluth announced on Dec. 7 that it had filed for bankruptcy protection following a jury verdict last month that held the Minnesota diocese responsible for more than half of an $8.1 million judgment on behalf of a victim of sex abuse by a priest.

The Chapter 11 filing makes Duluth the 13th of nearly 200 U.S. Catholic dioceses to file for bankruptcy since 2004 because of the clergy sex abuse scandals. Regional organizations of two religious orders have also sought bankruptcy protection.

The Duluth award was one of the highest single monetary compensations for a survivor of clergy abuse, experts said. It was made possible thanks to a Minnesota law that lifted the statute of limitations on civil claims for sex abuse.

Vicki Jones 03-20-2012
Grocery store image by Katrina Wittkamp/Getty Images

Grocery store image by Katrina Wittkamp/Getty Images

I am on food stamps. This will surprise almost everyone who knows me. I have hidden it from friends, from family, from classmates.

I use self-checkout at the grocery store so I don’t have to face judgment from the cashiers. I read countless posts on Facebook and receive political emails telling me that being on food stamps makes me a degenerate, someone who is dependant and useless. I hear about how I should be kicked off of food stamps so I won’t be so lazy and will get a job.

At the time the economy crashed, I was studying to be a chiropractor. My (now ex-) husband was laid off from his good job. It took him over a year and a half to find a new job. During that time we lost our house and had to declare bankruptcy. Our marriage fell apart.

I’m now a single mom struggling to make ends meet. I was faced with the decision to quit school and go back to work and pray that somehow I’d be able to make the payments on more than $100,000 in student loans or to press on with my education. I prayed about it. I applied for aid. And through the grace of God, I received food stamps.

The Crystal Cathedral. Image via Bobby Deal / RealDealPhoto/

The Crystal Cathedral. Image via Bobby Deal / RealDealPhoto/

Last Sunday, Pastor Sheila Schuller Coleman appeared for apparently the last time before some 800 people at the morning service of the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif.

For members of the extended Schuller family who had built and shepherded the iconic megachurch into the spiritual home for 10,000 members, so much had changed:

  • Faced with staggering debts and a bankruptcy filing, the glass building was recently sold to the local Catholic diocese, but can remain Protestant in the short term.
  • The staff had dropped from 350 to 200, including the recent firings of Coleman's sister, husband and brother-in-law, who had all worked on its "Hour of Power" broadcasts.
  • Just the day before, her parents, Robert H. and Arvella Schuller, had departed the ministry they started more than 50 years ago, citing a multimillion-dollar fight with its board.

As members of the Schuller family head in new directions — Coleman and brother-in law Jim Penner plan to start a new church this Sunday — the famous glass-walled church offers a cautionary tale of the potential pitfalls facing family-run ministries.

Elizabeth Palmberg 05-13-2011
As unemployment brought on by the recession still hovers around 9 percent, most ordinary folk in the U.S.
Shane Claiborne 12-20-2010

I went into a Christian bookstore the other day and was surprised to see some of the most prominent display space given over to military flags for the U.S. Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines. These flags, and a vast assortment of Americana merchandise, were on sale for the holidays.

Jim Wallis 03-19-2010

We all know how much the media love conflict, and they have fallen in love with the health-care debate. Yesterday's New York Times story on the final House vote expected this weekend simply said, "Showdown Near." That says it all about the gunfight at the O.K.

Ju Hong 03-15-2010

"Look at those illegals," my friend laughed, pointing at two Latino immigrants leaning against a fence nearby. I smiled and brushed it off, but inside, I was angry. I wondered what he would say if he knew that I'm also an "illegal."

Heidi Thompson 12-17-2009

At a recent holiday party, I tried to describe my hometown of Warren, Ohio.

"Warren?" I said. "Well, it's a lot like Detroit. With none of the perks."

I have a neighbor who has a little maxim he uses to explain much of what he sees on the news or reads about in the local paper.
Amy Barger 09-16-2009
A bankruptcy office was not on my dream list of places to work after college. The legal realm seemed opaque and impersonal.
Imagine America's 'Rust Belt' transformed into a green belt of clean energy manufacturing. Imagine the factories of Detroit making wind turbines and solar panels to power America.