Diocese appears for Chapter 11 First Day motions

By Michael Walsh
Catholic Star Herald
October 22, 2020

With the Oct. 1 announcement of filing for Chapter 11 reorganization under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, the Diocese of Camden appeared for the First Day motions on Oct. 7 at the United States Bankruptcy Court, District of New Jersey, federal court building in Camden in front of Judge Jerrold N. Poslusny Jr.

In court that day were Bishop Dennis Sullivan, Father Robert Hughes, Vicar General of the Diocese, Laura Montgomery, Director of Temporal Services and head of the diocesan Finance Department and attorneys for the Diocese, including those from the law firm of McManimon, Scotland & Baumann, LLC who are representing the Diocese in the reorganization. Also in attendance, in person and via telephone, were attorneys representing sex abuse victims with lawsuits against the diocese.

First Day motions, usually conducted one week after the initial filing, are utilized by organizations seeking financial relief on an expedited basis and typically include, but are not limited to, requests to: maintain existing banking accounts and cash management systems; maintain and set adequate assurance for utility companies; pay prepetition payroll; etc., with admissible evidence to support the request. In the case of the Diocese, the First Day motions were done for just these reasons. All motions and accompanying documents can be found on the PrimeClerk link on the diocesan website:

“While much of this court hearing was largely technical, it was also an important opportunity for the diocese to show its commitment to this process, which is ultimately being undertaken to ensure that victims of clergy sex abuse in the Diocese of Camden will be able to receive equitable compensation to the claims brought against the diocese,” said Father Hughes.

Without this process, it is feared that a race to the courthouse would ensue by victims’ attorneys, with the first case to be decided receiving the largest share — or worse yet the entire share — of the funds available for compensation.

Father Hughes noted that the Chapter 11 process is quite intense and requires a great deal of planning. He credited attorneys Richard Trenk and Robert Roglieri from McManimon, Scotland & Baumann for doing “an exemplary job preparing us for this process and making sure our filing has been effected just as the court requires.”

Father Hughes was impressed with Bishop Sullivan’s address to the court at the close of the motions, noting that he thanked Judge Poslusny for allowing him to speak before the court. Bishop Sullivan also expressed, as he has many times since coming to the diocese almost nine years ago, his personal embarrassment for the past actions priests of the diocese committed against vulnerable children.

As noted in his written remarks, Bishop Sullivan explained that the Diocese is responsible for the past misconduct of some of its priests and has, and will continue, to address these horrific acts. He stated in his remarks that while the diocese has taken steps to try to avoid this ever happening again, this filing is not an effort to avoid responsibility, but a path to fairly and equitably address the financial claims of the survivors.

Bishop Sullivan’s remarks also note that while the diocese addresses the abuse claims, that it must continue to meet the mission of serving the faithful and all members of the South Jersey community who need services, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic and its aftermath.

Lastly, Bishop Sullivan promised to personally, in conjunction with diocesan staff and professionals, make himself available at all times.

According to Father Hughes, Bishop Sullivan also said to Judge Poslusny that despite having to offer his mandatory resignation earlier this year to the Holy Father, when he turned 75, that his intention is to see this process through till the end, with every intention of making it an efficient and expedited process.

Father Hughes explained that it is the hope of himself, Bishop Sullivan, the attorneys and the diocesan financial council that this process will proceed quickly.


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