Catholic dioceses are declaring bankruptcy.

— Abuse survivors say it’s a ‘way to silence’ them

The insolvency of California dioceses has caused some cases be put on hold, even as a $175m cathedral has risen over Oakland


In Oakland, California, the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Christ the Light is difficult to miss. Towering over Lake Merritt in the heart of the city, its modernist glass dome reflects the East Bay sun in all directions.

The building, which was completed in 2008 and financed by the Roman Catholic diocese of Oakland, cost $175m. But that price tag confounds Joseph Piscitelli.

In the 1970s, Piscitelli attended a Catholic high school in nearby Richmond, where, from the age of 14, he experienced repeated sexual abuse at the hands of his vice-principal, an ordained priest. For decades, Piscitelli experienced nightmares and panic attacks. Friends who had also been abused turned to drugs and alcohol, and several took their own lives.

In 2003, Piscitelli sued the Salesian College Preparatory high school and the Salesian order, and won. While the cases were decided in his favor in 2006, they had not held leaders at the top accountable. So, in 2020, he filed a new suit, this time against the Oakland diocese.

Then, to Piscitelli’s dismay, the diocese declared bankruptcy in May. As a result, his case was put on an indefinite hold.

The Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, California.
The Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, California.

“Oakland could get together enough money to build a $200m cathedral not too long ago, but they can’t get the money together to pay the child victims whom they raped for decades,” Piscitelli said. “They’re morally and ethically bankrupt, but they’re not financially bankrupt.”

One by one, various arms of the Catholic church across California have declared bankruptcy, citing an inability to pay damages from large numbers of sexual abuse lawsuits. The dioceses of Santa Rosa and Oakland filed in the spring. The archdiocese of San Francisco followed suit in August, and the diocese of San Diego has shared its plan to do the same in November. The lawsuits come at a time when Catholicism in California is growing – fueled in large part by immigration from Latin America and Asia – while other parts of the US, including former Catholic hubs in the north-east, are seeing their numbers dwindle.

Church bankruptcy declarations are not unprecedented. From Portland to Milwaukee and from Helena to Rochester, dioceses have been declaring – and emerging from – chapter 11 bankruptcy for nearly two decades. And it isn’t only the Catholic church taking these steps. The Boy Scouts of America likewise sought protections amid thousands of sexual abuse allegations in 2020.

The flood of California suits came after 2019 legislation opened a three-year “look-back window” that would allow survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file suits based on old claims that would normally have fallen outside the statute of limitations. When the window closed last December, more than 2,000 individuals around the state had filed cases against the Catholic church; 330 accusers have sued the Oakland diocese alone.

“No one really expected this huge number [of abuse cases] to come in at this last month,” said Maureen Day, a sociologist and associate professor of religion and society at the Franciscan School of Theology. “It suddenly became a much larger financial hardship for many dioceses.”

But declaring chapter 11 does not mean that the church is broke, said Marie Reilly, professor of law at Penn State University. Rather, it is a legal strategy undertaken by corporations that say they don’t have the funds to pay a high number of individual settlements. Known as “reorganization”, these bankruptcy protections let the church avoid undertaking dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of individual costly trials by grouping them into one settlement.

“It will look like more of an administrative process,” said Reilly, who specializes in bankruptcy law and also created a database that tracks diocesan bankruptcies.

But the church claims bankruptcy is also fairer to victims, primarily because it means each victim is treated equally and all survivors receive even payouts.

“You see some of the settlements that are out there. You can almost use up all the funds on one or two settlements, and the rest of the survivors that have legitimate concerns get nothing,” said Peter Marlow, executive director of communications and media relations for the archdiocese of San Francisco. In 2019, the Los Angeles archdiocese paid $8m to a single abuse survivor. To date, settlements have cost California’s Catholic church more than $1b.

“The diocese believes this is the best way to ensure a fair and equitable outcome for all survivors and provide just compensation to the innocent people who were harmed while allowing the diocese to stabilize its finances and continue its sacred mission entrusted to it by Christ and the church,” said Helen Osman, director of communications for the diocese of Oakland.

To abuse survivors, the proceedings feel like a cop-out. “It’s just another way to silence us,” says Dan McNevin, who leads the Oakland chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (Snap) support group.

Unlike trials, bankruptcy proceedings do not involve a discovery process, meaning key pieces of information about what church leaders knew may never be revealed.

McNevin knows how meaningful those revelations can be. As a child, he was an altar boy at his local parish in Fremont, south of Oakland, where he says he was groomed and abused by his priest. In 2003, following California’s first look-back window, he brought a suit against the diocese of Oakland, claiming it had knowingly shuffled his abuser from place to place to mask his crimes.

The diocese initially denied those claims, but during the trial, documents unearthed during discovery revealed that Father James Clark had been convicted of sexual abuse years before he arrived in Fremont.

“When we discovered that he had been arrested, my case was made,” said McNevin. “It probably helped settle 60 cases.” But those cases were settled individually, not collectively, as they would be in bankruptcy proceedings – a critical difference to McNevin.

“They’re going to try to slice and dice the survivors into categories,” he said. “How do you contemplate making those kinds of stark arbitrary decisions when every human being is different?”

Melanie Sakoda, survivor support coordinator at Snap, says the removal of the discovery process results in victim retraumatization. “What they’re really looking for is information,” she said. “After waiting all these years before finally getting themselves together enough to come forward and file a lawsuit, it’s disappointing. And it makes people angry.”

For Piscitelli, the suggestion that the church is unable to afford individual lawsuits is especially infuriating. He says those claims come across as disingenuous in light of the vast assets held by California’s Catholic organizations, which include properties in some of the country’s most expensive real estate markets.

“It’s duplicitous at best,” said Piscitelli. “It’s advantageous for the diocese.”

McNevin, who has spent years researching church holdings and tallying diocesan assets, agrees. Using public ownership and title records, McNevin claims to have found that the Oakland bishop as a corporation owns more than 2,000 pieces of land. Some, like churches and schools, are central to the church’s mission, and will therefore be excluded from settlement discussions. But others appear to be empty plots of land, rental properties or shopping centers, he says.

“I was stunned,” said McNevin, who has shared the appraisals – which Snap says total more than $3bn – with the Oakland bishop, Michael C Barber, and attorneys for the plaintiffs. “They have the assets to pay people whatever is needed,” McNevin claimed.

The diocese of Oakland did not respond to requests for clarification about how real estate will play into the proceedings, and would not confirm or deny that the Oakland bishop owns this much real estate, aside from saying that it owned approximately 100 parishes at its peak. Documents from the case state the diocese’s real property value is “undetermined” and list Furrer Properties, Inc – a stock corporation that owns and rents properties – as an asset.

The archdiocese of San Francisco flatly denies any accusations of secrecy or obfuscation. “Anyone can have access to the information. It’s available on a website that’s free of charge,” said spokesperson Marlow.

Another element the church emphasizes is that declining membership and rising costs, particularly during the pandemic, have squeezed budgets and limited the church’s ability to perform its duties. As a result, parishes have been forced to consolidate and close.

Day, the sociologist, says potential church closures are an equity issue, since immigrants comprise a large portion of parishioners. “These are people who are in need of jobs, in need of community,” she said. “So we are going to be failing these new migrants as well.”

Seeking bankruptcy protections safeguards worshippers, the church says, because it ensures that only the bishop is sued. “The parishes, the schools and the other ministries associated with the archdiocese aren’t included,” said Marlow.

Yet experts say the proceedings do affect the local Catholic community emotionally and spiritually. “There is a lot of pain and hurt,” said Day. Reilly added that in the past, sexual abuse allegations have caused some individuals to leave the church altogether.

Inside the Cathedral of Christ the Light during Easter mass, in Oakland, California.
Inside the Cathedral of Christ the Light during Easter mass, in Oakland, California.

Back in Oakland, Piscitelli finds it impossible to believe that the church’s motivations are anything but nefarious.

“As a victim and a survivor, this is an entity that has historically and habitually enabled child rapists for decades. They covered for them, they transferred them, they shuffled them and they enabled them. And now they’re stating that they want to provide compassionate and equitable solutions for survivors,” he said. “I don’t believe it for a second.”

Piscitelli said he has heard from a number of fellow survivors who feel the same way. Many of them elected not to file lawsuits for that very reason.

Those who did, however, plan to support one another in fighting against the legitimacy of the bankruptcy ruling in order to have their own individual trials. That’s the only way that, Piscitelli says, they can begin to close past wounds.

“It’s like looking at scenes on Netflix, but it’s real, and you had to live it.”

Complete Article HERE!

Catholic church loses landmark case over tactics that shield it from Australian abuse claims

— Guardian investigation found the church routinely uses deaths of paedophile priests to avoid paying or to reduce amount of settlements

High court rules Catholic church’s use of permanent stays to delay justice in abuse cases is unlawful.


The Catholic church has lost a landmark case over its controversial use of the deaths of paedophile priests to thwart survivors’ attempts at justice.

The high court on Wednesday delivered a significant blow to the church’s use of permanent stays in historical abuse matters, where it has sought to argue that delay, the death of perpetrators, and the loss of records render it unable to receive a fair trial.

Earlier this year, a Guardian investigation found that the church was now routinely using permanent stays in cases where perpetrators have died, either to defeat active claims before the courts or to low-ball survivors in settlement negotiations.

The tactic is causing profound harm to an already vulnerable group.

Critics say it is also immoral, given the church’s own role in delaying justice for decades, which included hiding abuse complaints from law enforcement and destroying or deliberately not keeping records.

Survivor groups argue the approach is at odds with the intent of Australian parliaments, which all removed time limits on bringing civil claims in recognition of the significant barriers to survivors coming forward.

One survivor, known as GLJ, whose case for compensation was permanently stayed, asked the high court to intervene and allow her case to proceed. GLJ alleges she was abused as a 14-year-old by Lismore priest Father Clarence Anderson.

Anderson died in 1996, well before GLJ’s complaint, and the Lismore diocese argued it was put in an unfair position, unable to properly investigate the allegation or mount a defence. The church says it was left “utterly in the dark” on whether the abuse occurred.

But GLJ’s lawyers say the church had held evidence about his abuse of other children from 1971, the year of his defrocking, and had ample opportunity to investigate his conduct more broadly in the 25 years prior to his death. Instead, it did nothing, her lawyers say.

The high court on Wednesday ruled in GLJ’s favour, saying permanent stays should only be granted in “exceptional” cases.

In their decision, chief justice Susan Kiefel and justices Stephen Gageler and Jayne Jagot said any other use of stays would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.

“If a court refuses to exercise its jurisdiction to hear and decide cases in other than exceptional circumstances and as a last resort to protect the administration of justice through the operation of the adversarial system, that refusal itself will both work injustice and bring the administration of justice into disrepute,” they wrote.

The judges also said reforms removing time limits on survivors’ claims had changed the legal context.

“In this new legal context, the Diocese’s contention that any trial of the proceedings would be necessarily unfair must be rejected,” they wrote. “As the Diocese acknowledged that its case for a permanent stay for abuse of process was based only on necessary unfairness of a trial and not undue oppression or unfairness otherwise, no permanent stay is justified. The proceedings must go to trial.”

GLJ’s lawyers, Ken Cush and Associates, say their client is relieved and delighted at the outcome.

“GLJ hopes this landmark decision will also be able to help others right across Australia to bring their claims before courts despite the Catholic church again seeking to mount technical legal defences to their claims,” the firm said in a statement.

“GLJ is hopeful that this decision combined with the learnings and recommendations from $343,000,000 Royal Commission about the damage done by childhood sexual abuse will mean the Catholic church will take this opportunity to reflect on the morality of its continuing to mount these technical legal defences.”

Documents before NSW courts make it clear the church knew Anderson was abusing boys at least four years before GLJ’s alleged assault. It did not remove him from the clergy and instead shuffled him through parishes, where he continued to abuse boys.

Knowledge of his abuse was held at senior levels of the church, including by the then bishop of Lismore, who wrote in 1971: “[Anderson] has had a recurring trouble in sexual matters, especially homosexuality. This first came to my notice about some six years ago, and in every case young boys were involved. We have made persistent efforts to help him to overcome his problem, but apparently without any appreciable result.”

Survivors take an average of 22 years to come forward, according to the child abuse royal commission, and GLJ’s lawyers argued that made the loss of evidence and the deaths of perpetrators common.

Perry Herzfeld SC told the high court earlier this year that meant there needed to be a greater tolerance for the loss of evidentiary records in historical abuse cases, or the use of permanent stays would become routine, rather than exceptional.

“The inevitability of the long passage of time and the inevitability of the impoverishment of the evidentiary record means that one has to approach these applications with a greater tolerance for that,” he said.

The decision will be welcomed by survivors and advocates for reform.

Various jurisdictions, including New South Wales, where the use of stays is most prevalent, have been awaiting the outcome of the GLJ case before responding to calls for legislative change.

The Australian Lawyers Alliance has already met with the NSW attorney general to lobby for limits to be placed on the use of stays in historical abuse cases.

“In general these institutions have taken great care not to take records or to make sure that records go missing. In particular, some of them have kept no proper records of complaints made in respect of particular abusers,” Dr Andrew Morrison KC, ALA spokesperson, said in June. “So it’s a disgraceful situation that they should be able to take advantage of that to avoid proper compensation.”

Complete Article HERE!

Church abuse victim silenced by legal tactics watches it happen again

— As more states ease path for civil justice, institutions that harbored attackers deploy tactics to limit liability and silence survivors

Nicholas Finio, 9, in a sports photo taken before years of alleged abuse by a priest in his Harrisburg, Pa., church.


He knew “luck” wasn’t the right word the moment he said it.

But Nicholas Finio was trying to describe the way everything lined up perfectly for the reckoning he’d spent decades working toward.

He filed a lawsuit in time, he worked with an experienced legal team and a good therapist. He was ready to confront the defrocked priest whose persistent sexual abuse had turned his years as a blond-haired altar boy delighted to be chosen for the solemn duties at Mass into a nightmare. The terror of the abuse lived inside him for 15 years, it followed him through high school and college, into his relationships and his marriage. It even made him think about suicide.

“It was the hardest thing I ever did in my life; it was terrifying,” said Finio, now 34 and an assistant research professor in the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation at the University of Maryland. “The first time I ever told a lawyer about it I was dripping with sweat and my hands were shaking.”

And then?


The Pennsylvania Archdiocese where Finio had been an altar boy reached for a shrewd and now-familiar playbook the Catholic Church has been deploying to muzzle survivors: declaring bankruptcy.

That meant the case that Finio had filed in 2018, when he was within the statute of limitations, that had been building for two years of discovery and paperwork, was folded into a bankruptcy hearing.

“The one piece of power I still had — the ability to speak to the public, in the courtroom — was taken away from me,” Finio wrote to me this week. “I did not have that ability as an abused child, and they took it away from me again as an adult survivor.

“The church, with its immense power, cash assets to pay lawyers, and actuarial science,” Finio wrote, “chose to relegate my story and those of dozens of other survivors to [E]xcel spreadsheets, paragraphs in emails, and [W]ord documents.”

It was as if “they had the cheat code,” he said.

>And that’s exactly what the Archdiocese of Baltimore did, filing for bankruptcy Sept. 29 — two days before Maryland’s Child Victims Act became state law. The law was intended to open the door for hundreds of survivors to sue the church for its part in thousands of horrific sexual acts committed against children, and for church leaders’ complicity in enabling priests and covering up the abuse.

He is speaking out now because other people are about to endure the “enraging” process that he went through.

“The bankruptcy judge didn’t talk to us,” he said. “There’s no getting interviewed by anybody — you’re just telling your story to the insurance companies and everybody sits around the table for a couple of years.”

Finio was part of the small committee of survivors who work with bankruptcy lawyers in these cases. They are seen by the court as “creditors.” More than two dozen U.S. dioceses have deployed the same tactic, according to the Catholic News Agency. They call it a “restructuring” and say — from their gilded and historic buildings — that the move is crucial to their survival.

“I had to deal with a lot of anger in the last three years,” he said. “Not really having any recourse, any ability to act on everything that has held me back for so long.”

Survivors, the lawyers who deal with these cases said, aren’t in it for the money. They want to be heard. They want the rest of the world to understand the adults’ complicity, the calculated coverups that kept them tortured for years.

“Survivors don’t want to get processed,” said Benjamin Andreozzi, who was Finio’s lawyer, has represented victims in New York and New Jersey and who is now representing about 20 survivors of abuse in the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

When Finio saw all of this playing out in Baltimore last week, he decided to speak publicly for the first time, forgoing the John Doe anonymity of his lawsuit. He wants the church, the priest and other survivors to hear his voice.

The priest who Finio says abused him, John G. Allen, 79, is living in an apartment in Harrisburg, according to public records. He did not respond to my email seeking information. His only public comment on record about the allegations against him was a guilty plea in 2020 to two counts each of indecent assault against a child under 13, indecent assault of a child under 16 and corruption of minors — all crimes involving altar boys, according to media reports.

The Dauphin County Court judge gave him five years of probation and life on the sex offender registry, where he submits his photos, address and a description of his tattoos (a Chinese Capricorn, a moon, a star and a four-leaf clover, all on his left thigh.) He submitted his most recent photo to the registry in August.

Ordained in 1970, Allen has a long history of sexual assaults and incidents, according to the grand jury report by the Pennsylvania attorney general.

Each time something happened, the church knew.

The grand jury report documents how the church knew Allen was arrested for soliciting an undercover police officer. They heard from boys who said he paid them for sex acts. Strip poker. Nights in a hotel. Backroom invitations before services. And a bishop got the memo about Allen’s alleged confession — at a Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous meeting — that he was obsessed with young boys, the report states.

And through all that, Allen was moved around nine parishes across central Pennsylvania

It was in 1999 that Finio was a 10-year-old altar boy at St. Margaret Mary Alacoque parish in Penbrook, dreading every time Allen was the priest celebrating Mass.

Finio said the priest groped and molested him dozens of times over the three years he served at the altar. He told no one at the time.

When Finio sued in 2018, the church offered a small settlement. He wanted a trial.

Then, the bankruptcy shut it down.

He wants the Baltimore survivors to know they are not alone, and that although they’re in for a long and frustrating process, they should persevere.

“Don’t stop fighting,” he tells them. For other survivors. For today’s children. For themselves.

Complete Article HERE!

Baltimore Archdiocese, Bracing for More Abuse Claims, Files for Bankruptcy

— The nation’s oldest Catholic archdiocese made the move days before the start of a new law removing the statute of limitations on lawsuits from abuse victims.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore

By Ruth Graham

The archdiocese of Baltimore, the oldest in the United States, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday, two days before a new state law goes into effect allowing child sexual abuse victims to sue organizations no matter how long ago the abuse took place.

Archbishop William E. Lori attributed the filing directly to the law’s effect on the archdiocese, which is facing “a great number of lawsuits” that were previously prohibited by state law, he said in a letter to the archdiocese on Friday.

Filing for bankruptcy, Archbishop Lori said, is “the best path forward to compensate equitably all victim-survivors, given the archdiocese’s limited financial resources, which would have otherwise been exhausted on litigation.”

The bankruptcy filing stops all lawsuits against the archdiocese, which could have been filed starting at 12:01 a.m. on Sunday. Instead, a judge will oversee the reorganization of the archdiocese, ultimately setting a deadline for victims to file their claims in bankruptcy court.

The archdiocese of Baltimore is the latest of more than a dozen dioceses and archdioceses in the United States to currently be in bankruptcy proceedings. That’s in addition to 19 dioceses that have emerged from bankruptcy, according to a list maintained by Marie T. Reilly, a professor at Penn State Law.

A vast majority of documented abuses in Catholic churches, schools and institutions took place decades ago, but some states have reopened opportunities for victims to bring civil claims that would have otherwise been barred because they happened too long ago.

The Archdiocese of San Francisco filed for bankruptcy in August, saying that it faced more than 500 lawsuits under a state law passed in 2019 that extended the statute of limitations for civil claims.

Maryland’s Child Victims Act was signed by Gov. Wes Moore in April. The state’s Catholic Conference, the lobbying arm for the church, opposed the bill when it was being debated, calling it unconstitutional and unfair.

The bill’s final passage was timed to the release of a major report from the Maryland attorney general that revealed how clergy members from across the archdiocese had abused hundreds of children and teenagers over six decades.

The report documented “pervasive and persistent abuse” by clergy members and others in the archdiocese, and a church hierarchy that systematically failed to investigate and restrict abusers’ access to children.

The new law eliminates the statute of limitations for future child sex abuse lawsuits, setting it apart from other states that have opened limited “lookback windows” for victims to sue over past abuse.

But the bankruptcy filing means that victims will now have to file their claims by a certain date, effectively limiting future lawsuits.

Filing for bankruptcy just days before the law goes into effect — and more than five months after it was signed — “is yet another abuse” for victims, said Robert Jenner, a lawyer based in Baltimore who represents victims.

“Our clients have gotten their hopes up, they’ve been energized, they’ve been preparing for these suits,” Mr. Jenner said, noting that preparation is often extremely painful for victims. “All of that re-triggering could have been avoided by a timely filing,” he said.

The archdiocese has argued that the law could result in extremely large settlements or jury awards for the first handful of victims, draining the institution’s resources and preventing others from receiving fair compensation.

But critics say that objection doesn’t hold water, since the law caps rewards for noneconomic losses in each case at $1.5 million, a relatively low amount that would not drain resources immediately.

“Their argument is disingenuous and it’s an effort to avoid accountability,” said Philip Federico, a lawyer based in Baltimore who is working with Mr. Jenner on cases against the archdiocese and other institutions.

With the Chapter 11 filing, payouts to creditors — including victims suing for financial compensation — would be managed by a bankruptcy judge. Victims would not be able to present their experiences of abuse before a jury. Church officials would not be cross-examined by lawyers in open court.

Baltimore has symbolic stature in the American Catholic Church because of its history and large Catholic population. For the country’s first few decades, the entire American Catholic Church formally existed within the diocese. Its current leader, Archbishop Lori, was elected last year as vice president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Complete Article HERE!

San Francisco archdiocese files for bankruptcy amid child abuse lawsuits

St. Mary’s Cathedral, the principle church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco, in 2010. The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy Monday.


The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco on Monday filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, saying it is necessary to resolve the more than 500 lawsuits of child sexual abuse dating back decades, prompting victim advocates to call the decision an attempt to deny justice and transparency for survivors.

The petition was filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California, Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone said Monday, arguing that it was the “best solution for providing fair and equitable compensation to the innocent survivors who have been harmed,” he said on the archdiocese website.

Archbishop of San Francisco Salvatore Joseph Cordileone attends the mass and imposition of the Pallium at the Vatican Basilica on June 29, 2013 in Vatican City.

“The unfortunate reality is that the archdiocese has neither the financial means nor the practical ability to litigate all of these abuse claims individually,” he said.

“It is the best way to bring much-needed resolution to survivors while allowing the Archdiocese to continue its sacred mission to the faithful and those in need. We must seek purification and redemption to heal, especially survivors who have carried the burdens of these sins against them for decades,” the statement added.

Cordileone said the majority of the alleged abuses occurred from the 1960s into the ’80s and involved priests who are deceased or no longer in the ministry.

The announcement prompted criticism from advocates who argued it could “stonewall survivors of clergy sexual abuse from receiving proper justice under the lawsuits filed under the California Child Victims Act,” said Jeff Anderson, an attorney who represents more than 125 people suing the archdiocese.

In a statement posted on his firm’s website, Anderson called the archbishop’s decision “dangerous” and said it demonstrates his preference for “secrecy and self-protection.”

The archdiocese did not immediately respond to The Washington Post’s request for comment on Anderson’s accusation Monday afternoon. When asked about the bankruptcy filing, it deferred to the statement on its website.

Dan McNevin, a representative of the nonprofit Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, had also previously warned against harmful consequences of such move.

“San Francisco’s bankruptcy will stiff-arm survivors who have the courage to tell their stories,” he told the San Francisco Chronicle this month, when the newspaper reported on the archdiocese’s intent to seek the protections. “If it is allowed to stand, bankruptcy halts trials, testimony, legal discovery, and the release of the files of priests and other perpetrators that, if released could be used to assess who in the organization helped to cover up crimes.”

“It’s a double bottom line benefit; they keep their secrets and they keep more of their wealth,” McNevin told the Chronicle.

Anderson and other advocates have also questioned the archdiocese’s refusal to publish information about members of clergy accused of child sexual abuse.

A barrage of lawsuits came after California passed a 2019 law allowing people to bring claims for childhood sexual abuse that otherwise would have been barred due the statute of limitations. The law opened a three-year window allowing cases to be filed against nonprofit organizations through Dec. 31, 2022, leading to more than 500 civil lawsuits against the San Francisco Archdiocese, according to a Los Angeles Times article from late last year, and more than 3,000 lawsuits against the Catholic Church in the state, The Post reported last month.

In 2003, California became the first U.S. state to temporarily lift statutes of limitations for childhood sex abuse in the wake of the Catholic Church scandal.

>If approved, the Chapter 11 process would freeze legal actions against the archdiocese while it restructures its finances.

The archbishop said bankruptcy would cover only the corporate legal entity, the Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco, and not its 88 parishes and schools, which are independently managed and will continue to operate as usual. The archdiocese serves more than 442,000 parishioners in the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo and Marin.

The San Francisco Archdiocese’s move follows that of the Santa Rosa Diocese, which filed for bankruptcy in March amid sex-abuse lawsuits from 200 people. The Oakland Diocese announced in May that it had filed for bankruptcy amid more than 330 lawsuits.

According to the Catholic News Agency, more than two dozen dioceses in the United States have entered bankruptcy proceedings, most of them in the past decade.

Complete Article HERE!