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What was the previous legal structure of parishes in the Archdiocese?

The Archdiocese of Detroit historically existed as a civil form of a “corporation sole.” This model is several centuries old and developed out of various historical contexts. This structure civilly recognizes church property as held by the bishop in trust for the benefit of the parishes and other Church-affiliated parties. The corporation sole model is problematic because it gives the false impression that the bishop has ownership of all parish property in his diocese. According to canon law, the goods of a parish belong to the parish itself, and not to the bishop – although canon law does require a pastor to make an account to the diocesan bishop as to how parish property is acquired, administered, and sold. Prior to incorporation, parishes are structured as unincorporated associations under civil law.