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Catholic Archdiocese bankruptcy process moves forward as injunction pausing claims remains in place

Catholic Archdiocese bankruptcy process moves forward as injunction pausing claims remains in place
Catholic Archdiocese bankruptcy process moves forward as injunction pausing claims remains in place 03:03

BALTIMORE – The Archdiocese of Baltimore will need to disclose more of its "third party" assets like schools and parishes during its bankruptcy case.

The Archdiocese filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September ahead of a new law that went into effect in October. The Child Victims Act eliminated the statute of limitations in child sexual abuse claims.

"They need to be accountable for their lies," abuse survivor Teresa Lancaster said outside court Monday. "It's the church that made this happen that enabled the rapists to continue. The church, the property of the church, needs to be responsible."

An injunction remains in place for lawsuits against the church to give time for attorneys to sort out details in the bankruptcy proceedings.

An Attorney General report this year identified more than 160 clergy and other church staff accused of abusing more than 600 victims.

Judge Michelle Harner said she was pleased by the progress attorneys representing a group of abuse victims, known as a creditors' committee, and archdiocese attorneys are making.

"Transparency in financial information is going to be very critical," Harner said. "I want this to be more than lip service. These are tough issues."

The creditors' committee is requesting more information about the archdiocese's transfers at parishes and schools.

In a court filing last week, church attorneys summarized the archdiocese assets and liabilities. It included items ranging from a $17 office stool to the nearly $5.8 million archdiocese office building on Cathedral Street.

"It's a veil of secrecy that we have to push aside so we can see just how much they have," Lancaster said. "We want to see the assets there, because the survivors should be entitled to compensation."

Lancaster and other abuse survivors were pleased Judge Harner indicated she will give victims a chance to come forward during the bankruptcy process.

"There's a lot of us out here who just wants the public to know how despicable it was, how horrible it was what we went through—raped as children," Lancaster said.

David Lorenz, Maryland's director of "SNAP"—The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests—urged the court to compel church leadership to attend hearings.

"If a survivor wants Archbishop Lori in that court room, he should have to be there—or some church official. He has to hear those stories," Lorenz said.

A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Baltimore said they "expected to actively discuss this with the survivor committee."

"All victim-survivors are offered a personal meeting with the Archbishop or other church leaders if the victim-survivor believes it would be helpful," Archdioceses spokesperson Christian Kendzierski said. "The Archbishop and the bishops have met with many victim-survivors."

The Archdiocese confirms St. Benedict in Southwest Baltimore will close this month following an allegation of sexual abuse against a priest.

Church officials cited a lack of clergy available.

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