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Published on June 13, 2024
San Diego Roman Catholic Diocese Announces Intention to File for Chapter 11 Amid Surge in Sexual Abuse ClaimsSource: Google Street View

The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego is preparing to voluntarily step into the purview of Chapter 11 bankruptcy, an announcement confirmed by Cardinal Robert McElroy in a communication to the clergy and parishioners. This action emerges in the shadow of mounting legal claims of sexual abuse, a crisis that has continued to deeply challenge the Catholic Church's integrity and financial stability.

It's reported by NBC San Diego that the Diocese is confronted with over 450 claims of sexual abuse, a staggering increase from the 144 claims it addressed back in 2007. These claims were largely enabled to come to light due to a legal change by the California legislature, lifting the statute of limitations and allowing victims, some of whom allegedly suffered abuse over half a century ago, to steadfastly seek healing through legal reparation.

In their explanations, the Diocese leaders are navigating a path they hope will, on one hand, provide rightful compensation to the survivors of decades-past abuse and, on the other, maintain the essential mission of the Catholic Church to educate, serve pastorally, and outreach to the poor and marginalized. It's a dual imperative that aligns with Cardinal McElroy's stated sentiment, as he noted, "Bankruptcy offers the best pathway to achieve both," in a letter referenced by FOX 5 San Diego.

The complexities of the filing are such that while solely the diocese will go through the bankruptcy process, other Catholic institutions like parishes and high schools might also be required to call upon their reserves to contribute. According to NBC San Diego, Cardinal McElroy has indicated that these ancillary religious bodies "will have to contribute substantially to the ultimate settlement" as a part of delivering due compensation to the victims. This implies a potential financial outreach that surpasses the direct channels of the diocesan coffers.

Echoing a note of penitence and sorrow, Cardinal McElroy concluded his message with a prayer that the ignominy of these abuses never fades from memory, while invoking divine solace over the victims. But where McElroy expresses a desire for remorse and redemption, victims' representatives perceive a strategy to shirk financial responsibility. "This will be the second time the Diocese of San Diego has filed for bankruptcy protection and is doing so 'to avoid paying fair compensation to child sexual abuse victims'", according to a statement from the Zalkin Law Firm, as reported by FOX 5 San Diego. With bankruptcy slated to take effect on Monday, this chapter in the Diocese's history is set to unfold under both legal scrutiny and the watchful eye of those who seek not only compensation but a measure of closure that transcends monetary settlements.