San Francisco Catholic Archdiocese files for bankruptcy to settle hundreds of sexual abuse claims

Parishes, schools, cemeteries and related organizations are not part of the filing and will continue normal operations.

Published: August 22, 2023 8:56am

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco filed for bankruptcy in an attempt to resolve more than 500 child sexual abuse lawsuits and facilitate settlements for the survivors.

The archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Monday, which the church describes as "a court-supervised process that allows each claim to be evaluated on its merits."

The bankruptcy filing will halt all legal actions against the archdiocese as it develops a plan to reorganize its assets and insurance coverage to settle abuse claims with survivors, the church said.

Most of the claims involve allegations of abuse that occurred at least three decades ago involving priests who are deceased or no longer active, the archdiocese said.

"The unfortunate reality is that the Archdiocese has neither the financial means nor the practical ability to litigate all of these abuse claims individually," San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone said.

Filing for bankruptcy is "the best way to bring much-needed resolution to survivors while allowing the Archdiocese to continue its sacred mission," Cordileone also said.

The archdiocese oversees 88 parishes, which are independently managed and not included in the filing. Additionally, schools, cemeteries, charities and related organizations are not part of the filing and will continue normal operations.

The San Francisco archdiocese pledged to "continue to serve the 442,000 Catholics in the counties of San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin, and its priests and deacons will continue to carry out their missions and ministries." Employees will be paid and have benefits as normal, the church also said.

Earlier this year, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland and the Diocese of Santa Rosa both filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy over sexual abuse claims, according to The Associated Press.

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