Stockton Diocese Considers Bankruptcy

Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., described in detail the financial situation of the diocese in two recent letters to parishioners that were read during weekend Masses. The most recent letter, read during weekend Masses on Sept. 7 and 8, announced the diocese’s plans to consider filing for bankruptcy. The diocese has been making payments stemming from multiple lawsuits over sexual abuse by members of the clergy and is running out of funds for future settlements. By 2010, it had settled 22 sexual abuse lawsuits at a cost of $18.7 million. Currently, the diocese is making payments on three lawsuits and has one suit pending. The decision facing Stockton comes on the heels of the announcement on Aug. 31 of plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the Diocese of Gallup, N.M. If the Stockton Diocese goes through with declaring bankruptcy, it will be the 10th diocese to do so as a result of the costs of lawsuits over sexual abuse by clergy. In 2004 the Archdiocese of Portland, Ore., was the first to file for bankruptcy.

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