Stockton Catholic Diocese to file for Chapter 11 protection

01/13/2014 5:33 PM

01/17/2014 5:52 PM

The Stockton Diocese announced Monday afternoon it will file Wednesday for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The move affects only the diocesan budget and property and will not have an impact on the individually incorporated parishes or ministries, Bishop Stephen Blaire said. The creditors, mostly victims of sexual abuse by priests, are expected to challenge that statement.

“This has been a difficult decision,” Blaire said in a press release. “Nevertheless, I am convinced this step will allow us to achieve two essential goals. First, it will provide a process to compensate as fairly as possible the victims of sexual abuse, including those who have not yet come forward or had their day in court. At the same time, the process will provide a way for us to continue the ministry and support we provide to the parishes, the poor and the communities located within our diocese.”

The Stockton Diocese becomes the 10th in the country and the second in the state to move under the protection of the bankruptcy court. The action was taken to reduce the amount of money the diocese must pay in civil cases involving priests and sexual-abuse victims. It also will put a time limit on filing any new lawsuits concerning past sexual abuse. But in an interview with The Bee on Monday afternoon, Blaire said he wasn’t trying to hide assets or blame the legal action on the abuse victims, some of whom have received multimillion-dollar awards.

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