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Parishioners 'shocked' at possible bankruptcy for Catholic Diocese of San Diego

The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego announced on Friday it is considerings filing for bankruptcy.
Posted at 6:07 PM, Feb 12, 2023
and last updated 2023-02-12 21:07:18-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Several parishioners leaving Saint Joseph's Cathedral on Sunday morning were "shocked" to find out the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego is considering filing for bankruptcy.

"Everyone was reacting in different ways," said one man, referring to the moment when a letter revealing financial concerns for the Diocese was read aloud.

The letter details the "staggering legal costs" the Diocese is facing as new lawsuits emerge alleging sexual abuse of minors in years passed.

RELATED: Catholic Diocese of San Diego considers bankruptcy to pay off sexual abuse victims

California Assembly Bill 218 (AB218) passed in 2019, and it removes the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse cases and grants a three-year window for victims to file lawsuits which were previously time-barred.

The Diocese says it is now dealing with approximately 400 suits seeking monetary damages for alleged acts of sexual abuse involving the church.

The letter to parishioners highlighted that "One important aspect of these lawsuits is that none of them claim sexual abuse by any priest of the Diocese of San Diego currently in ministry. This reflects the reality that the Church has taken enormous steps to root out the sexual abuse of minors in its life and to promote the protection of minors."

One man leaving mass said it "makes you feel better... that they are starting to clean that up."

The letter states filing bankruptcy would ensure "that the assets of the diocese will be used equitably to compensate all victims of sexual abuse" and "provide a fund for future claimants of sexual abuse who have not filed a claim."

RELATED: Abuse survivor calls Catholic Diocese plan to potentially file for bankruptcy a ‘slap in the face’

The Diocese says it spent $198 million settling 144 lawsuits in 2007 and could not pay a similar amount now, even with insurance.

One parishioner told ABC 10News that parishioners are able to donate to the Diocese for specific causes, including lawsuits.

The Diocese says if it files for bankruptcy, it will file in the upcoming months.