How the Los Angeles archdiocese plans to avoid bankruptcy with so many cases pending is not clear. In a statement, the archdiocese said it has been “providing, on an ongoing basis, pastoral financial settlements directly to victim-survivors, regardless of the openings of the statute and when the abuse may have occurred.”
In a statement to RNS in early April, the Archdiocese of San Francisco said it was still in the process of evaluating more than 400 lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by clergy, volunteers or archdiocesan staff. These cases date back more than 50 years, and a vast majority of the accused are dead, the archdiocese said.
In addition, a large number of the allegations against the San Francisco archdiocese include names of alleged abusers who do not appear to be priests assigned to the archdiocese, it said.
John Andrews, spokesman of the Diocese of San Bernardino, said there are no current plans to file for bankruptcy.
San Bernardino Bishop Alberto Rojas said in a statement in March that the diocese is evaluating “different legal and financial options” to resolve more than 130 sexual abuse lawsuits. A vast majority of the lawsuits involve abuses alleged to have occurred more than 30 years ago, he said.
The diocese, Rojas said, has provided victims with more than $25 million in settlement monies since 2003. Those settlements were paid through a combination of savings and insurance coverage with “little or no impact to our core ministries.” Now, Rojas said, “we must acknowledge the significant financial impact they would have on our local church.”
McNevin, of SNAP, credits the number of outstanding sex abuse claims to “delayed disclosure,” a phenomenon common to survivors of child sex abuse in which individuals remain silent for years before coming forward.
A 2020 report by Child USA found the average age at the time of reporting child sex abuse to be about 52 years. “The average age of abuse is somewhere in the 11- to 14-year-old range, so it’s a 40-year lag,” McNevin said.
McNevin also attributes the flood of cases to the lower stigma associated with being an abuse survivor. “There’s been a lot more awareness … So people are not embarrassed to say it happened to them. They no longer fear being called a liar,” McNevin said.
As SNAP drafts a letter to Bonta, McNevin said they are calling on the attorney general to “examine these bankruptcies closely.”
Just as in New York, where the Diocese of Buffalo has submitted to government oversight, McNevin said there’s an opportunity for Bonta “to really impose an appropriate, safe structure that will keep exposure at a maximum.
“What will happen will be a secular imposition of structure onto the Catholic Church that will force it to be safer,” he said.
This article originally appeared here.