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Bankruptcy Protection and the Sexual Abuse Crisis

The Portland archdiocese and the Tucson diocese have filed for bankruptcy protection from their creditors (including victims of sexual abuse by priests) after settling large abuse cases, and the Davenport diocese considered bankruptcy protection before settling with 37 victims. The Spokane diocese has decided to file for Chapter 11 protection after a settlement "could not be reached." Below we offer an archive of materials relating to bankruptcy and church finances, including legal documents, statements by bishops and victims, news, and analysis.

This page offers videos of media reports on diocesan bankruptcy, helpful links, and sections of articles and documents relating to church finances and bankruptcy in general; church assets and real estate; the bankruptcy filings or possible filings in Spokane, Portland, Tucson, and Davenport; relevant articles about finances in other dioceses, and sample diocesan financial reports.

Judy Valente's report on Tucson is a good place to begin (a transcript with a link to the video). Then see a brief and useful overview by an analyst not involved in the disputes. The actual Portland and Tucson bankruptcy petitions are available here, as is the Portland advertisement informing victims that they must come forward before a deadline. See also two opposing views on bankruptcy as an option, from the bishops' general council and from a legal scholar. The Boston Herald's detailed inventory of unused Boston archdiocesan property is thought-provoking. Many other documents are available below, and these links will be updated regularly. Please suggest items we should add. Thanks for visiting!

Video Reports on the Bankruptcy Issue

* Tucson Bankruptcy Dilemma, by Judy Valente (8/20/04) [for 10-minute RealPlayer feature, click in the video box at this link] The transcript of this report is available below.
* L.A. Archdiocese Financial Crisis, Judy Valente (7/11/03) [for 7-minute RealPlayer feature with footage on diocesan valuation methods, click in the video box at this link]

Helpful Links

* Diocese of Spokane
* Archdiocese of Portland Web page with some materials on the bankruptcy filing
* Diocese of Tucson, Chapter 11 Financial Reorganization Web page
* Diocese of Davenport, home page with links to some bankruptcy materials
* Catholics for Spiritual Healing, a bankruptcy-related Web site in the Davenport diocese
* Filing Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, by BankruptcyLawFirms.com, with brief articles on bankruptcy topics.
* Financial Administration, from Archbishop: Inside the Power Structure of the American Catholic Church, by Thomas J. Reese, S.J.

Church Finances and Bankruptcy in General

* Sexual Abuse Hits Church Finances, by Peter Gould (4/15/02)
* The Economic Strain on the Church, by William C. Symonds (4/15/02)
* The U.S. Catholic Church: How It Works, in Business Week (4/15/02)
* Q&A: A Talk with the Vatican's Moneyman, by Gail Edmondson, interviewing Cardinal Edmund C. Szoka (4/15/02)
* A New Chapter, by Fred Naffziger (10/21/02)
* What Happens When a Church Goes Bankrupt, by Brad Knickerbocker (7/9/04)
* L.A. Archdiocese Financial Crisis, by Judy Valente (7/11/03)
* Bankruptcy Won't Touch Most Assets, Diocese Says, by Stephanie Innes (7/11/03)
* Did the Portland Catholic Archdiocese Declare Bankruptcy to Avoid or Delay Clergy Abuse Suits? by Marci Hamilton (7/13/04)
* Churches Weigh Going Bankrupt to Escape Suits, by Marie Beaudette (7/28/04)
* Catholic Diocese of Tucson Files Plan of Bankruptcy Reorganization, by Jack Siegel (9/22/04) [prompted by the Tuscon bankruptcy filing but relevant to all such filings]

Diocesan Assets and Real Estate

* Roman Catholic Bishop, by Jennifer Levitz (8/18/02) on the finances and real estate holdings of the Providence RI diocese
* Diocese Details Sale of Property, by Jennifer Levitz (4/15/02) on real estate owned by the diocese of Providence RI
* "Land Rich" {1} {2}, by Jack Sullivan and Eric Convey, with a table of land owned by the Boston archdiocese (also sorted in descending order of assessment value), a Boston Herald editorial, and a reply to this analysis printed in the Pilot, the archdiocesan weekly newspaper. (8/27/02)
* AG Gains Oversight of Assets at Parishes, by Michael Paulson (8/18/04)
* Bid to Freeze Diocese Assets Is Rejected, by Onell R. Soto (10/6/04)

Diocese of Spokane

* Talks Fail to Settle Spokane Diocese Lawsuits, by By Nicholas K. Geranios (11/5/04)
* Spokane Diocese to File for Bankruptcy, by John Wiley (11/10/04)
* Press Statement, by Bishop William S. Skylstad (11/10/04)
* Statement Regarding Spokane Diocese Bankruptcy, by Michael Ross, SNAP (11/10/04)
* I am convinced that Chapter 11 provides justice for everyone involved, by Bishop William S. Skylstad (11/11/04)
* New Bishops' Head from Troubled Diocese, by Rachel Zoll (11/15/04)
* Bishops' New President Has Released Names of Accused Priests, by Rachel Zoll (11/16/04)
* U.S. Bishops Pick Leader from Bankrupt Diocese, by Alan Cooperman (11/16/04)
* Catholic Bishops, After a Divisive Debate, Choose a New Leader, by David D. Kirkpatrick (11/16/04)
* New Head of US Bishops Faces Scrutiny, by Michael Paulson (11/16/04)
* Catholic Bishops Pick New President, by Ann Rodgers (11/16/04)
* Church's Lingering Scandal, editorial in the San Francisco Chronicle (11/16/04)

Archdiocese of Portland

* Archbishop Utters Bankruptcy, by Shelby Oppel and Ashbel S. Green (6/18/03)
* Voluntary Petition, by Archbishop John G. Vlazny (7/6/04) [redactions of certain names and initials in this bankruptcy document were made by BishopAccountability.org]
* Letter Announcing Bankruptcy, by Archbishop John G. Vlazny (7/6/04) and PDF copy
* Archdiocese of Portland Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, by Ed Langlois (7/7/04)
* Archdiocese of Portland, Ore., Declares Bankruptcy, by Alan Cooperman (7/7/04)
* Archdiocese in Portland Declares Bankruptcy, by Janet I. Tu and Stuart Eskenazi (7/7/04)
* Diocese in Ore. Files for Chap. 11, by Michael Paulson (7/7/04)
* Religious Aspects Complicate Bankruptcy, by Ashbel S. Green (7/8/04)
* Perspectives: Archdiocese of Portland Bankruptcy, interview of Mark Chopko by Bob Abernethy (7/9/04)
* Archdiocese on Uncharted Path, by Jeff Kosseff (7/12/04)
* Statement Alleges Archdiocese Ignored 5 Warnings, by the Associated Press (7/13/04)
* Did the Portland Catholic Archdiocese Declare Bankruptcy to Avoid or Delay Clergy Abuse Suits? by Marci Hamilton (7/13/04)
* Archdiocese of Portland's Bankruptcy Filing Turns Eyes to Vatican, by Janet I. Tu (7/13/04)
* U.S. Archdiocese in Bankruptcy Court Asks Permission to Pay Workers, by Catholic News Agency (7/16/04)
* Bankruptcy Filing: A Chance to Heal, by John G. Vlazny (7/20/04)
* In Bankruptcy Case, Key Questions Center on Archdiocese’s Status as Trustee, by Ed Langlois (7/20/04)
* Bankruptcy Seen As Dioceses' Shelter, by Jeff Kosseff and Jim Barrett (8/2/04)
* Legal Notice to Survivors of Deadline to File Claims, by the Archdiocese of Portland, and the legal document that describes the deadline process (8/18/04)
* A Dangerous Precedent? by Brian K. O'Neel (10/31/04)

Diocese of Tucson

* Editorial: Bankruptcy May Be Best for Diocese, by Tucson Citizen (7/8/02)
* 7 Young Men Look to "Our Day in Court," by Stephanie Innes (7/11/04)
* Bankruptcy Won't Touch Most Assets, Diocese Says, by Stephanie Innes (7/11/03)
* Bishop Kicanas Denies ‘Conspiracy’ in Announcing Possible Bankruptcy, by Catholic News Agency (7/15/04)
* Pope Defrocks Tucson Priests, by Scott Simonson and Tom Beal (8/6/04)
* Diocese Nears Threshold on Bankruptcy, by Stephanie Innes (8/16/04)
* Tucson Bankruptcy Dilemma, by Judy Valente (8/20/04)
* Voluntary Petition, filed by the Diocese of Tucson (9/20/04)
* Plan of Reorganization, filed by the Diocese of Tucson (9/20/04)
* Disclosure Statement, filed by the Diocese of Tucson (9/20/04)
* Letter to Abuse Victims, by Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas (9/20/04)
* Letter to Church Members, by Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas (9/20/04)
* Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson Files for Bankruptcy over Abuse Cases, by Arthur H. Rotstein (9/20/04)
* Statements Regarding Tucson Diocese Bankruptcy, by David Clohessy and Jim Parker (9/20/04)
* Tucson Diocese Files Bankruptcy Reorganization, by Sheryl Kornman (9/20/04)
* Bankruptcy Timeline, by the Tucson Citizen (9/20/04)
* Timeline of Diocese's Troubles, by the Arizona Daily Star (9/21/04)
* Diocese's Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Is "Prepackaged," by David Wichner (9/21/04)
* Diocese Seeks Bankruptcy Protection, by Michael Clancy (9/21/04)
* Facing Sex Abuse Suits, Tucson Diocese Seeks Bankruptcy Protection, by the Catholic News Service (9/21/04)
* Catholic Diocese of Tucson Files Plan of Bankruptcy Reorganization, by Jack Siegel (9/22/04)
* Diocese of Tucson Files for Bankruptcy, by Business News (9/24/04)
* Tucson Diocese Victims Have 6 Months to File Claim, by Michael Clancy (10/08/04)
* Panel of Alleged Abuse Victims Appointed in Diocese Bankruptcy Case, by Associated Press (10/24/04)
* Victims Group Denied Role in Diocese Case in Tucson, by Associated Press (10/26/04)

Diocese of Davenport

* Remarks on the Possibility of Bankruptcy, by Bishop William E. Franklin (9/30/04)
* Davenport Diocese Contemplates Bankruptcy over Sex Abuse Suits, by Todd Ruger (10/1/04)
* Davenport Diocese Talks Money, by Shirley Ragsdale (10/1/04)
* Bishop Says Abuse Scandal Could Force Diocese into Bankruptcy, by Todd Dvorak (10/1/04)
* Priests React to Bankruptcy Warning, by Mike McWilliams (10/2/04)
* Diocese Hopes to Settle Claims, by Shirley Ragsdale (10/2/04)
* Letter, by Bishop William E. Franklin (October 6, 2004)
* Parishioners Seek Bankruptcy Details, by Todd Ruger (October 6, 2004)
* Letter to Bishop Franklin, by Catholics for Spiritual Healing (October 6, 2004)
* Groups from 10 Parishes Ask Davenport Diocese Bankruptcy Meetings, by the Associated Press (October 7, 2004)
* Leaflets Encourage Involvement in Diocese, by Des Moines Register News Services (October 10, 2004)
* Letter, by Bishop William E. Frankin (October 16, 2004)
* Diocese: Schools Safe If Chap. 11, by Craig T. Neises (10/20/04)
* Iowa Diocese Says It's Near Bankruptcy, by Ryan J. Foley (10/21/04)
* Diocese Clear: Settlements or Bankruptcy, by Todd Ruger (October 21, 2004)
* Delay in Sex Abuse Suits Denied, by Todd Ruger (10/22/04)
* Diocese Motion Denied, by Warren Kitts (October 22, 2004)
* Judge Denies Diocese's Request to Delay Trial, by Shirley Ragsdale (October 22, 2004)
* Diocese Begins Cutting Staff As Trial Date Nears, by Todd Ruger (October 23, 2004)
* Davenport Diocese Cuts Staff after Judge's Ruling, by the Associated Press (October 23, 2004)
* Davenport Diocese Starts Layoffs After Judge's Ruling, by the Hawk Eye (October 23, 2004)

Other Dioceses

* Perspectives: Bankruptcy Implications for Boston Archdiocese, by Bob Abernethy interviewing Michael Paulson (12/6/02)
* L.A. Archdiocese Financial Crisis, Judy Valente (7/11/03)
* AG Gains Oversight of Assets at Parishes, by Michael Paulson (8/18/04)
* Attorney: Covington Diocese Looking at Bankruptcy, by the Associated Press (10/23/04)

Sample Diocesan Financial Reports

Diocese of Belleville IL
- Financial Statements and Independent Auditor's Report (June 30, 2003)
- Financial Statements: The Catholic Community Foundation for the Catholic Diocese of Belleville (June 30, 2003 and 2002)

Archdiocese of Los Angeles
-
Financial Results (January 24, 2003)
-
Questions and Answers (January 24, 2003)
-
Financial Highlights of the Affiliated Organizations within the Archdiocese (January 24, 2003)
-
Combined Financial Statements and Report of Independent Certified Public Accountants (June 30, 2003 and 2002)


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