Diocese of Auckland, surrounded by lawsuits, hints at bankruptcy

In a letter to parishioners which was also sent to the media on Thursday, Bishop Michael Barber said he was “taking serious consideration of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.”

Barber’s letter comes just three days after the Diocese of Santa Rosa filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy over more than 200 possible sexual assault claims.

In both cases, church leaders cite a state law that opened a three-year window to allow childhood sexual abuse lawsuits to advance despite statute of limitations that prevented older lawsuits.

In the letter, Barber wrote, “Since the application window closed on December 31, 2022, we have been advised that approximately 330 claims may be filed against our diocese.”

In the FAQ section on diocese websiteChurch leaders have said the eventual bankruptcy ruling is not intended to minimize its liability to victims of sexual assault.

The Chapter 11 process is transparent and “ensures all claimants equal access and a fair share of the assets available to pay claims” and allows the church to continue its “mission as the Catholic Church in Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.” Web site.

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