Archdiocese of San Francisco Seeks Bankruptcy Protection
As the number of sexual abuse cases against priests and other church staff mounted, one of the largest Catholic Church organizations in the country threatened to file Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a measure to protect itself and limit survivor payouts.
“We believe the bankruptcy process is the best way to provide a compassionate and equitable solution for survivors of abuse while ensuring that we continue the vital ministries to the faithful and to the communities that rely on our services and charity,” Archbishop Salvatore J. Cordileone said in a letter addressed to Catholics in San Francisco.
Archbishop Cordileone signaled the bankruptcy earlier this month, warning publicly that the filing was “very likely.”
San Francisco is the third archdiocese in the state to file for bankruptcy this year. The dioceses of Oakland and Santa Rosa filed in the spring, citing the number of sexual abuse lawsuits filed against them. The diocese of San Diego, one of the largest in the state, announced in May that it planned to file later this year.
Archbishop Cordileone is a key player in the Catholic Church’s ultra-conservative wing. For example, he “banned” former House Speaker and Bay Area Catholic Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi from participating in communion in all of San Francisco.
Many misbehaving organizations and companies seem to look at bankruptcy as some sort of proverbial magic wand that can instantly make all their financial and nonfinancial problems disappear. But it is not that simple, and an experienced attorney can help survivors seek the justice they deserve.
If you or a loved one was sexually abused as a minor by a priest or other church worker, Maryland’s new laws mean you have a renewed opportunity to file a claim and get the justice you deserve. Contact The Yost Legal Group today for a free consultation.
As mentioned above, to many entities in legal trouble, Chapter 11 bankruptcy seems like a silver bullet. The automatic stay stops civil lawsuits from progressing. Furthermore, the entity that emerges from bankruptcy is legally different from the entity that filed. Therefore, the new entity might not be liable for the old entity’s negligence.
Not everyone can reap these benefits. Courts have consistently held that honest, yet unfortunate debtors are entitled to bankruptcy relief. In the above story, the San Francisco Archdiocese is not honest, unfortunate, or a debtor.
Courts have also consistently ruled that bankruptcy is a shield, not a sword. The archbishop is worried about the 500 cases already filed and more worried about the thousands of cases yet to be filed. Bankruptcy is not a preemptive strike that denies victims a day in court.
Furthermore, the Archdiocese was negligent, not unfortunate. For decades, the Catholic Church had chance after chance to do the right thing and protect people from the sexual predators in its purview. But the Church passed at every opportunity. Now, lawyers must get involved to hold the Church responsible.
Finally, multiple sexual abuse judgments could easily cause significant financial distress for a public or private entity, no matter how large or small. However, that has not happened to the San Francisco Archdiocese, yet, and given California’s “civil compromise” approach to the statute of limitations, it might never happen. Bankruptcy helps entities with debt problems, not entities who might have such problems in the future.
Sexual Abuse Survivor Lawyers Ready to Help
Contact The Yost Legal Group today to talk to an experienced sexual abuse survivor attorney. There is no fee for consultations.
The Yost Legal Group is taking on Catholic churches and archdioceses around the state of Maryland who abetted, aided, harbored, and protected sexual abusers while ignoring and neglecting the survivors.
If you or a loved one is the survivor of sexual abuse as a minor, you may have a case under new Maryland laws and be entitled to significant compensation. Call today for a free consultation: 1-800-YOST-LAW (1-800-967-8529).