SAN FRANCISCO - San Francisco's Roman Catholic archdiocese filed for bankruptcy protection on Monday, saying it's necessary because it faces more than 500 lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse by church officials.
There was a surge in cases because California temporarily lifted the statute of limitations, allowing victims to bring cases that may be decades old.
"The unfortunate reality is that the Archdiocese has neither the financial means nor the practical ability to litigate all of these abuse claims individually, and therefore, after much consideration, concluded that the bankruptcy process was the best solution for providing fair and equitable compensation to the innocent survivors who have been harmed," said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone in a statement.
"It is the best way to bring much-needed resolution to survivors while allowing the Archdiocese to continue its sacred mission to the faithful and those in need. We must seek purification and redemption to heal, especially survivors who have carried the burdens of these sins against them for decades," Cordileone said.
The 88 parishes and their schools in the archdiocese, which covers San Francisco, San Mateo, and Marin counties, are managed independently and not included in the Chapter 11 proceedings, the church's statement said. Cemeteries, St. Patrick's Seminary, and Catholic Charities are also not part of the bankruptcy case, the archdiocese said.
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"The Chapter 11 filing will halt all legal actions against RCASF while the Archdiocese develops a plan of reorganization that is based on assets and insurance coverage available to be used to settle claims with abuse survivors," the church's statement said.
Oakland's diocese filed for bankruptcy in May, also citing the number of lawsuits that it faced. Santa Rosa's diocese has also filed for bankruptcy.