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Sunday, July 21, 2024
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North Coast’s Catholic Diocese Will File Bankruptcy Because of ‘Overwhelming Number of Sexual Abuse Lawsuits’

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The following is a statement from Bishop Robert F. Vasa of the Diocese of Santa Rosa–Eureka:


Stained Glass from the Chappele Notre-Dame de Compassion [Photograph by Flickr user Guilhem Vellut]

After months of careful and prayerful consideration, and after having consulted the priests of the Diocese as well as the Diocesan Finance Council, and professionals retained by the Diocese, it has become clear to me that it is necessary for the Diocese of Santa Rosa to file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection. This decision was made necessary due to the overwhelming number of sexual abuse lawsuits filed against the Diocese after the statute of limitations was lifted for a three-year ‘window’. We now are facing more than 130 claims dating from 1962 when the Diocese was established to the present. A vast majority of the cases date from the 70’s and 80’s.

Our present plan is for our attorneys to file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection after December 31 and before March 1, 2023. Our Diocese joins a growing list of Dioceses in the United States to make such a filing.

Map of the Catholic diocese of Santa Rosa in California [WikiCommons]

In many ways, this is not a freely chosen decision. It is the inevitable result of an insurmountable number of claims. I am convinced, however, that choosing this path will allow us to achieve two very important goals. First, it will provide a process to carefully evaluate and compensate, as fairly as possible those who have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse. Chapter 11 is a process designed to bring all parties together in one place to resolve difficult claims fairly and finally, with the supervision of the bankruptcy court. A bankruptcy allows the Diocese to deal with all these issues collectively rather than one at a time. At the same time, the process will provide a way for the Diocese to continue the various charitable ministries in which it is engaged.

It is important to remember that the only entity filing for bankruptcy protection is the corporation sole known legally as the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Santa Rosa. The parishes and Catholic schools within our Diocese are separate civil corporations or separate ecclesial entities and should not be parties to this filing. There are many matters to be discerned by the bankruptcy court and so absolute certainty about the degree of participation by any other entities such as parishes and schools will be determined in the course of the proceedings.

Since we began discussing this possibility more than a year ago, I have been moved by the understanding, patience and support expressed by the clergy and by the various people in the Church with whom I have previously shared this information. I am deeply grateful.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. A wonderful interview, all parts on you tube:
    “Cactus Pete interviews Sister Jane Kelley”
    Describes the local abuse perfectly and how high it goes. Absolutely incredible please watch.

  2. No contrition for the sick & deplorable actions perpetrated by these “godly” men & women. The only concern is with the financial implications according to what I just read. Apparently God needs your love, devotion, blind faith & 10% of your income. In return he’ll take the innocence of children & leave a lifetime of emotional & psychological damage.

  3. You can’t blame God for people’a actions. We all have free will. We all make bad choices and hurt people hurt people but hey don’t blame God!

    God is the best and only good thing this world has going for it.

    Bad people hide behind all kinds of titles, and the times we’re living in are getting more satanic and evil by the minute. The churches and every non religious place on earth are full of wolves in sheeps clothing.

    But God IS good and God IS love and Jesus Christ is righteous and EVERYONE has free will.

    So don’t blame God or Jesus or the Bible

    • I dont blame God. I don’t believe in a God. Much less an omnipotent 1 that would allow such horrors to happen. Im all for you religious liberty & im happy you have something that brings meaning, love & strength in your life! But “God” wasn’t there for those kids while they were being assaulted. So if there is a God he/she/it isn’t worth any praise.

  4. The only charity and forgiveness needed are lifetime prison sentences for ALL who abused our children, and those who saw it for what it was and did nothing, for decades, for centuries. It is despicable.

    Romans 12:19
    Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.

  5. The Catholic church thrives on tithes collected as a result of preaching about sin and guilt, yet the institution has proven for centuries that it will resist scientific discoveries, stifle humanity, and worst of all, the leadership is tolerant of evil, wicked behavior from its clergy.

  6. It is incredible that by the diocese declaring bankruptcy that can protect the schools and the greater catholic organization in the US and in Rome especially because – although I know of no details from these accusations – in other investigations the decisions were made often at the highest levels. This is a move to use American legal system to avoid paying fines from law suits of people who were hurt. It is ridiculous to think the schools and the greater catholic organization are somehow different from the unit in Northern California. The Catholic church is immensely wealthy (maybe 30 Billion, https://nationalpost.com/news/wealth-of-roman-catholic-church-impossible-to-calculate), it seems wrong to allow a legal loophole to limit the amount that victims are paid from their legal settles – because the catholic church is far from bankrupt even if the Northern California Diocese says they are. We also need to close this for cooperation as well, who regularly do this same shell game with two integrated cooperations with one that takes all the risk and debt, and the other supported by it to take all the profits, so they can protect their money when the risky one goes down – classic heads I win, tails you lose – and the people on top have no risk. I have no idea if these accusations are valid and the amount that should be paid. That is for the courts to decide. I do know that if there are settlements that the Catholic Church as a whole should be responsible for paying, and not allow “bankruptcy” of the the Northern California Diocese to reduce legal penalties. This is what Alex Jones is trying to do in the Sandy Hook case, the Catholic Church should aim to be better than that.

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MendoFever Staff
MendoFever Staff
Editor's Note: Whenever an article's byline reads "MendoFever Staff", the contents of that article were not composed by any of our reporters. Types of writing that will be attributed to "MendoFever Staff" include press releases, letters to the editor, op-eds, obituaries— essentially writing that is not produced by a reporter.

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