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Amid Over 300 Sex Abuse Lawsuits, California Diocese Files for Bankruptcy

The Catholic Diocese of Oakland announced Monday that it had filed for bankruptcy, in order to stabilize its finances amid 330 sex abuse lawsuits.

The diocese said that most of the claims center on abuses that occurred in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s by priests who are either no longer active in ministry or who are deceased.

“This process is the best way to ensure a fair and equitable outcome for survivors,” Bishop Michael C. Barber wrote in a letter to parishioners.

“It is important we take responsibility for the damage done so we can all move beyond this moment and provide survivors with some measure of peace. Sadly, for many, the pain caused by these horrific sins, no matter when they occurred, will never wash away, which is why we offer support to survivors and pray for their continued healing,” Barber continued, and said that the bankruptcy will allow the diocese to “stabilize its finances and continue the sacred mission entrusted to us by Christ and the Church.”

Since the Catholic schools that operate under the diocese are separate legal entities and are not included in the filing, they will not be impacted.

California Assembly Bill 218 had temporarily waived the statute of limitations on civil lawsuits against any institution accused of enabling abuse. The church “could not shoulder” the litigation of hundreds of cases, Barber said.

“We know the pain inflicted against our children and young people decades ago continues to cause great suffering. I am deeply sorrowful about this reality and pray daily for all impacted. As Pope Benedict XVI reminds us, there is sin and evil in the world, even in our Church. But there is also virtue and mercy in abundance. We must address the sin and move forward as instruments of God’s mercy and holiness,” Barber added.

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