From the In My Backyard Desk, an announcement on the diocesan website Thursday morning:
The Diocese of Rockville Centre (“DRVC” and “The Diocese”) (www.drvc.org) announced today the filing of a voluntary petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The filing is necessary to manage litigation expenses, address disputes with the Diocese’s insurers and facilitate settlements with abuse survivors who brought lawsuits under the Child Victims Act. A video message announcing this filing from The Most Reverend John O. Barres, Bishop of Rockville Centre, is posted on the diocesan website: http://www.drvc.org.
The Diocese believes its current and future liquidity will be sufficient to fund operations and ministries during the restructuring process and beyond. Vendors will be paid for all goods and services delivered after the filing, and transactions that occur in the ordinary course of business will continue as before. Employees will be paid their normal wages, and their benefit programs will continue uninterrupted.
“We believe that this process offers the only way to ensure a fair and equitable outcome for everyone involved, including abuse survivors whose compensation settlements will be resolved by the courts,” said Bishop Barres. “This decision was not made lightly, but, with the passage of the Child Victims Act, the failure of the Diocese’s insurers to honor their contractual obligations and the number of suits filed to date, it has become clear the Diocese would not able to continue its spiritual, charitable and educational missions while shouldering the increasingly heavy burden of litigation expenses associated with these cases.”
The parishes and the Catholic schools of the Diocese of Rockville Centre are separate legal entities and therefore not included in the filing. Operations of the parishes and schools are expected to continue as normal. Some of the parishes are named in Child Victims Act lawsuits along with the Diocese. The Diocese intends to petition the Bankruptcy Court to stay (stop) any separate civil actions against these parishes and bring these cases under the umbrella of the settlement process in the Diocese’s Chapter 11 case.
Some context, from The New York Times:
Facing more than 200 lawsuits over sexual abuse allegations, the Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island said on Thursday that it filed for bankruptcy, the largest Roman Catholic diocese in the United States to do so.
The diocese, which serves about 1.5 million people, said it was seeking financial protection in part because of the passage of New York State’s Child Victims Act, which allows adults who were victims of sexual assault as children to file claims.
In a separate statement, the diocese said that about 40 percent of its annual revenue typically comes from offertory collections, but those plummeted after Sunday Mass services were suspended, then restricted, as a result of the outbreak…
…More than 20 Catholic dioceses have filed for bankruptcy over the past 16 years, according to BishopAccountability.org, which tracks sexual abuse cases in the church. The Rockville Centre diocese, the eighth largest in the country by population, is believed to be the biggest to do so.
Bishop Barres also posted the video you can see below.