San Diego

San Diegans react ahead of local Roman Catholic Diocese's planned bankruptcy filing

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The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego announced on June 13, that it will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy amid hundreds of legal claims from people accusing the diocese and its employees of sexual abuse.

“We received a letter from Cardinal McElroy and he explained the situation,” Parishioner Fran Savarese said.

The reaction from churchgoers comes only days after a local diocese spokesperson said this is a stain on the church’s reputation.

“The fact that these abuses ever took place is a stain on the Catholic Church, so we have to respond to that no matter what," Spokesperson for the Diocese of San Diego, Kevin EcKery, told NBC 7. 

In 2007, the Diocese settled lawsuits brought by 144 victims, but recently more than 450 claims have been made against the diocese, according to a statement.

In a 2023 letter, McElroy wrote that the 144 claims were settled for $198 million, but settling the present claims at the same rate would cost more than $550 million.

The diocese, which will be filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on June 17, said its parishes, charities and schools would continue normal operations.

“If they really want to do justice, then they should pay what the fair value is for the harm that was done. That's all we can do. We can't give people their lives back, but we can hold accountable by the amount of money that they pay for the harm that's been done. That's the only thing we can do,” Attorney Irwin Zalkin said.

Zalkin said if the diocese and the accusers are unable to reach a deal, cases may have to be released from the bankruptcy court back to state court to go to trial.

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