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Update: Archdiocese of San Francisco files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy over child abuse lawsuits

PIX Now - 6 a.m. 8/21/23
PIX Now - 6 a.m. 8/21/23 11:15

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Archdiocese of San Francisco is officially filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the wake of numerous claims of child sexual abuse allegedly committed by priests filed against it, according to an announcement Monday.

Catholic archbishop of San Francisco Rev. Salvatore J. Cordileone shared the letter posted Monday on the archdiocese's website.

"Today, I am informing you that after much reflection, prayer, and consultation with our financial and legal advisors, the Archdiocese of San Francisco filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization," the letter said.  

The bankruptcy reorganization stems in large part from the more than 500 civil lawsuits "filed against the Archdiocese under state law AB-218, which allowed individuals to bring claims for childhood sexual abuse that otherwise would have been barred due to the expiration of the statute of limitations," the letter said.  

Cordileone also commented on the filing in a video posted to YouTube Monday.

Archbishop Cordileone on filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy to facilitate settlements with survivors by Archdiocese of San Francisco on YouTube

Cordileone noted the bankruptcy filing would cover only the legal entity known as "The Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco, a Corporation Sole." The diocese's parishes, schools, and other entities are not included in the filing and their operation should not be affected, the archbishop said.

AB-218 was passed in 2019. Cordileone had previously announced that a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization was "very likely" in a letter published earlier this month.   

The archdiocese had previously sold excess property and drew on insurance to pay about $68 million to about 100 plaintiffs to settle claims filed under a 2002 state law.  

"I remain committed to the healing and care of survivors who have suffered irreversible harm because of the sins of the Church's ministers and ask you to join me in praying for our Archdiocese, parish communities, schools, and all survivors of sexual abuse," Cordileone said in the letter.  

The Archdiocese of San Francisco joins a growing list of dioceses in the Bay Area and across the United States and California that have filed for protection under the bankruptcy laws, including the dioceses of Oakland and Santa Rosa earlier this year.  

A lawyer representing alleged victims of childhood sexual abuse within the church criticized Cordileone's announcement Monday. 

"Cordileone's decision to file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy is dangerous and demonstrates the archbishop's priority is secrecy and self-protection," said Jeff Anderson, of Jeff Anderson and Associates.

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