Diocese of Sacramento Bankruptcy: Impact of 250+ Abuse Cases

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News Team

The Diocese of Sacramento in California has announced that it will file for bankruptcy in 2024 in response to over 250 claims of sexual abuse by priests and members of the Catholic church in Northern California. The bishop of Sacramento, Jaime Soto, confirmed this decision in a letter addressed to Catholics in the region, as well as to church workers and their partners. The bishop stated that the reorganization process will allow the diocese to respond equitably to the large number of victims-survivors of abuse.

Monsignor Soto explained that adhering to Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code is the only path the Catholic Church found to address the hundreds of complaints from victims and survivors of cases of sexual abuse committed by clergy. He acknowledged that it is the horrible sin of sexual abuse and the failure of Church leaders to act appropriately that brought them to this point, and that he must atone for those sins.

The bankruptcy petition will be filed in March 2024 by the Diocese of Sacramento, so that a court will oversee the distribution of its assets to victims and survivors of sexual abuse who have claimed compensation. The decision will allow the Diocese of Sacramento to continue its pastoral work during the bankruptcy reorganization and not suspend support to the parishes or the charitable organizations with which it works.

The Diocese clarified that in other similar claims, victims and survivors have also demanded a claim from the churches separately, so each parish was alerted to prepare independent legal assistance. As with the parishes, St. Francis High School in Sacramento and St. Patrick and St. Vincent in Vallejo will continue their functions regardless of the Diocese’s decision. The same will happen with the parish school corporations, those that manage Catholic cemeteries, the Catholic Foundation and social service agencies.

Monsignor Soto clarified that the victims and survivors of sexual abuse are not to blame for the fact that the Diocese is facing bankruptcy. He emphasized that the serious sins committed by priests and a small number of deacons and lay employees in the diocese are what brought them to this place, and not the victim-survivors of sexual abuse who are waiting to be heard.

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