SAN DIEGO — San Francisco’s Catholic archdiocese filed for bankruptcy Aug. 21, saying the action is needed to manage more than 500 lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse by Church officials.
The archdiocese is the third Catholic diocese in California to file for bankruptcy this year. The dioceses of Oakland and Santa Rosa filed for bankruptcy in May and March, respectively. The Diocese of Stockton filed in 2014.
Cardinal Robert W. McElroy announced in February that the San Diego Diocese was considering filing for Chapter 11 reorganization bankruptcy to ensure that its assets were used to equitably compensate survivors. In court, the diocese said it plans to file in November of this year.
A Chapter 11 bankruptcy is a process in U.S. law that provides a pathway to fairly compensate all victims with available assets while protecting the ability of the Church, in this case, to continue its mission. A judge oversees this public and transparent process, which intends to arrive at a mutually accepted settlement that the court can approve.
The California Legislature approved a law in 2019 that opened a three-year window to file a lawsuit for sexual abuse regardless of when it occurred. By the time the window closed, on Dec. 31, 2022, the 12 California dioceses were collectively facing more than 3,000 lawsuits.
Cardinal McElroy has said that the San Diego Diocese faces more than 400 lawsuits, two-thirds of which concern allegations that took place roughly 50 to 75 years ago.
None of the accused priests are currently in ministry.