The eighth largest Roman Catholic diocese or archdiocese in the U.S. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Oct. 1, reports MailOnline, with the intent of protecting itself from a flood of lawsuits over past sexual abuse by pedophilic and often homosexual clergy members.
The Diocese of Rockville Centre serves more than 1.4 million Catholics on Long Island, N.Y.
“The financial burden of the litigation has been severe and only compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Bishop John Barres in a video on the diocese’s website.
The last two decades have seen a tidal wave of lawsuits across the country over priests who used the church as both cover and hunting ground for their perversions.
Barres said more than 200 suits alleging sexual abuse by clergy members have been filed against the diocese since the 2019 passage of New York’s Child Victims Act, which suspends the statute of limitations so that sex abuse victims can make decades-old allegations of abuse against clergy members, teachers and others.
“That is because the bankruptcy court will centralize the litigation and oversee a settlement, making sure no survivor is left out or gets unfair compensation at the expense of another survivor,” he explained.
Civil claims now have an extra year — until August 2021 — to be made in abuse cases.
“What became clear was that the diocese was not going to be able to carry out its spiritual, charitable and educational missions if it were to continue to shoulder the increasingly heavy burden of litigation expenses associated with these cases,” Barres said.