Religion

Catholic Churches Going Bankrupt as Families Abandon the Church to Protect their Children from Pedophile Priests

by Brian Shilhavy
Editor, Health Impact News

It was reported earlier this week that another Catholic Diocese in California has filed for bankruptcy due to recent surges in lawsuits filed against pedophile priests during the past few years, which has caused attendance and support for Catholic Churches to plummet.

Fresno Diocese to file for bankruptcy amid surge in clergy abuse claims

The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno says the diocese plans to file for bankruptcy in a matter of months.

That’s following what it calls a “Surge” in clergy sexual abuse claims.

The California sexual abuse and Cover-up Accountability Act helped bring the number of credible accusations within the Diocese of Fresno to 154 cases, dating back decades.

The bishop says the only way to resolve every claim fairly and compassionately is to file for bankruptcy.

“When I hear how many lives were affected by clergy sexual abuse, my heart truly breaks,” said Bishop Joseph V. Brennan with the Diocese of Fresno.

“Victims of abuse endure a lifetime of pain, and we as Catholics must commit to a lifetime of atonement,” said Brennan.

Full article.

The Fresno Diocese is not the first one to file for bankruptcy due to backlashes from pedophile priests, but follows the Diocese of Sacramento, the Archdiocese of San Francisco, the Archdiocese of Oakland, and the Diocese of Santa Rosa.

While Catholic Churches across the U.S. have been going bankrupt in recent years as more and more cases are filed by the victims of Catholic pedophile priests who prey on children, that process accelerated in California after a 2019 legislative bill was passed that opened a three-year “look-back window” that would allow survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file suits based on old claims that would normally have fallen outside the statute of limitations.

When the window closed in 2022, more than 2,000 individuals around the state had filed cases against the Catholic Church.

Many of the victims who are now adults and were formerly abused by Catholic clergy, claim that filing bankruptcy by these dioceses is a cop out to avoid paying out settlements to the victims.

But the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, also known as SNAP, says filing for bankruptcy could do more harm to the victims.

“If the catholic church is going to hold itself out there as a moral beacon for a fallen world, then I think they have to act like a moral beacon. And I frankly think these bankruptcies are immoral,” said Melanie Sakoda, the SNAP Survivor Support Director.

She says if the church files, this could be a legal tactic to protect itself.

“#1, these children will never have a chance to be compensated for their injuries, and #2, It’s sad for the people in the parishes too, because they will never…that information about who these abusers are may never see public light,” said Sakoda.

“There’s no way that the church can weed out all the abusers, and churches are attractive to predators, so when you…If you take your children to church, pay attention to changes in behavior. Don’t just assume that because it’s the church that, it’s 100% safe.” (Source.)

The Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland, California. Photograph: MediaNews Group/East Bay Times/Getty Images. Source.

Robin Buller, a reporter who lives in Oakland and published an excellent investigative report in November of 2023 for The Guardian, revealed that these dioceses that declare bankruptcy do not mean that the churches don’t have money, as she referenced a Catholic Church in Oakland that just built a $200 million cathedral recently.

Catholic dioceses are declaring bankruptcy. Abuse survivors say it’s a ‘way to silence’ them

One by one, various arms of the Catholic church across California have declared bankruptcy, citing an inability to pay damages from large numbers of sexual abuse lawsuits.

The dioceses of Santa Rosa and Oakland filed in the spring. The archdiocese of San Francisco followed suit in August, and the diocese of San Diego has shared its plan to do the same in November.

The lawsuits come at a time when Catholicism in California is growing – fueled in large part by immigration from Latin America and Asia – while other parts of the US, including former Catholic hubs in the north-east, are seeing their numbers dwindle.

Church bankruptcy declarations are not unprecedented. From Portland to Milwaukee and from Helena to Rochester, dioceses have been declaring – and emerging from – chapter 11 bankruptcy for nearly two decades.

And it isn’t only the Catholic church taking these steps. The Boy Scouts of America likewise sought protections amid thousands of sexual abuse allegations in 2020.

The flood of California suits came after 2019 legislation opened a three-year “look-back window” that would allow survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file suits based on old claims that would normally have fallen outside the statute of limitations.

When the window closed last December, more than 2,000 individuals around the state had filed cases against the Catholic church; 330 accusers have sued the Oakland diocese alone.

“No one really expected this huge number [of abuse cases] to come in at this last month,” said Maureen Day, a sociologist and associate professor of religion and society at the Franciscan School of Theology.

“It suddenly became a much larger financial hardship for many dioceses.”

But declaring chapter 11 does not mean that the church is broke, said Marie Reilly, professor of law at Penn State University.

Rather, it is a legal strategy undertaken by corporations that say they don’t have the funds to pay a high number of individual settlements.

Known as “reorganization”, these bankruptcy protections let the church avoid undertaking dozens, if not hundreds or thousands, of individual costly trials by grouping them into one settlement.

“It will look like more of an administrative process,” said Reilly, who specializes in bankruptcy law and also created a database that tracks diocesan bankruptcies.

To abuse survivors, the proceedings feel like a cop-out. “It’s just another way to silence us,” says Dan McNevin, who leads the Oakland chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (Snap) support group.

Unlike trials, bankruptcy proceedings do not involve a discovery process, meaning key pieces of information about what church leaders knew may never be revealed.

McNevin knows how meaningful those revelations can be.

As a child, he was an altar boy at his local parish in Fremont, south of Oakland, where he says he was groomed and abused by his priest.

In 2003, following California’s first look-back window, he brought a suit against the diocese of Oakland, claiming it had knowingly shuffled his abuser from place to place to mask his crimes.

The diocese initially denied those claims, but during the trial, documents unearthed during discovery revealed that Father James Clark had been convicted of sexual abuse years before he arrived in Fremont.

“When we discovered that he had been arrested, my case was made,” said McNevin.

“It probably helped settle 60 cases.” But those cases were settled individually, not collectively, as they would be in bankruptcy proceedings – a critical difference to McNevin.

“They’re going to try to slice and dice the survivors into categories,” he said.

“How do you contemplate making those kinds of stark arbitrary decisions when every human being is different?”

Melanie Sakoda, survivor support coordinator at Snap, says the removal of the discovery process results in victim retraumatization.

“What they’re really looking for is information,” she said.

“After waiting all these years before finally getting themselves together enough to come forward and file a lawsuit, it’s disappointing. And it makes people angry.” (Read the full article at The Guardian.)

The rash of lawsuits filed against the Catholic Church against pedo priests began in 2001, when an investigative news team at the Boston Globe called “Spotlight” dared to go up against the Catholic Church in Boston, revealing how powerful the Catholic Church was in that heavily populated Catholic city, and how they used lawyers to settle cases directly without using the judicial system and keeping the pedophile priests secret and allowing them to continue sexually abusing children.

A movie documenting this story was made in 2015 based on the actual events, and it won the Oscar Award for Best Picture in 2016.

In my opinion, this is probably the only Best Picture Oscar award that was given out in my lifetime, that actually made America a better place, by unleashing the avalanche of victims coming forward to show just how corrupt and powerful the Catholic Church was in American culture.

Here is the trailer:

Be aware that this is NOT a “family friendly” film, as it uses vulgar language with explicit details of deviant sexual behavior, but it is a true story, and it is most likely happening in your neighborhood, or a neighborhood near you, where children are being sexually abused and trafficked.

I watched it years ago when it first came out, and I watched it again this week as I prepared for writing this article.

This film absolutely deserved all the awards that it received. The kind of journalism portrayed in this film is rare to non-existent these days.

One of the horrible things that was uncovered by the Boston Globe in their historic series of articles published back in the early 2000s exposing the pedophile priests, was how the Catholic Church actively participated in the cover-ups of these horrific crimes, by just moving the abusing priests to other dioceses.

In 2017 the Great Falls Tribune published an article about how the worst of these pedophile priests were relocated to Native American communities and reservations, which the Catholic Church used as “dumping grounds.”

Montana reservations reportedly ‘dumping grounds’ for predatory priests

For decades, even lifetimes, the Catholic Church refused to turn in priests with known pasts of sexually abusing children, women and men. The story is known in as many corners of the world as the Catholic Church exists, including Montana’s two dioceses.

In the Pacific Northwest, however, the Catholic Church and the Jesuit Order have been accused of using Indian Reservations as their “dumping grounds” for the worst recidivist priests accused of sexually abusing children throughout the 1900s.

Here, church officials reportedly determined predatory priests could remain undetected. Here, the church acted as an anchor for the communities, and the victims lived with the abuse in silence. (Full article.)

Stop Attending and Supporting the American Christian Church!

This brief article is just an update on the horrible problem of pedophile priests in the Catholic Church that was uncovered in 2001 by Spotlight at the Boston Globe.

Back in 2018 we published a much more in depth investigative report on this issue, including how whistleblowing Catholic Priests who have tried to expose this network of pedo priests have often gone missing or ended up dead.

To read much more on this topic see:

The Catholic Church and Pedophilia: Trafficking Children as Sex Slaves

Whistleblowing Priests Killed to Prevent Exposing Pedophilia Problem in the Catholic Church?

And this problem of pedophile clergy is not limited to just the Catholic Church, but is a problem in ALL Christian Churches who have a central authority figure or figures that claim to be more holy than the non-clergy, and are trusted to have access to children.

I have spent more time recently in reporting on the Evangelical Protestant clergy where pedophile pastors are just as prevalent, but even perhaps MORE powerful today than the Catholic Church, due to their ties to the U.S. Government and the military.

Here is a video I just published that shows the depth, and how high up the problem of pedophiles reaches in Evangelical Christianity earlier this week.

This is on our Bitchute channel, and also on our Telegram channel.

We have also previously reported on how child sex abuse is also rampant in the Mormon Church.

As I have previously written, Christianity is a cult, and you will find nothing in the Bible that resembles what the Christian religion has become through the centuries anywhere in the Bible.

Fact Check: “Christianity” and the Christian Religion is NOT Found in the Bible – The Person Jesus Christ Is

There is also NO biblical mandate for anyone to “Join a Church.”

Christian Myths: The Bible does NOT Teach that it is Required for Believers in Jesus to “Join a Church”

Any true believer in Jesus Christ who is a spiritual member of the Kingdom of God should NOT remain in these Christian Churches run by pedophiles.

These “churches” today are referred to in the Bible as the “Synagogues (churches) of Satan”.

American Christian Churches Have Become Synagogues of Satan

Don’t bring your children into these places, and stop supporting them!

Comment on this article at HealthImpactNews.com.

The post Catholic Churches Going Bankrupt as Families Abandon the Church to Protect their Children from Pedophile Priests first appeared on Created4Health.

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