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Archdiocese of Baltimore files for bankruptcy, braces for expected wave of sex abuse lawsuits
Photo by Mary F. Calvert For The Washington Post via Getty Images

Archdiocese of Baltimore files for bankruptcy, braces for expected wave of sex abuse lawsuits

The Archdiocese of Baltimore made an announcement on Friday that it has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. This comes after the institution expects to face dozens of sex abuse lawsuits.

Archbishop William Lori said that the religious organization's decision would allow "the Archdiocese both to equitably compensate victim-survivors of child sexual abuse and ensure the local Church can continue its mission and ministries."

"I acknowledge that no apology, compensation, or knowledge of our present-day accountability measures will necessarily lead to healing for victim survivors, nor repair the harm they suffered," Lori wrote. "To be sure, conversations with victim-survivors have taught me that neither I nor the Archdiocese can undo what was taken from them. At the same time, the Church cannot and will not abandon its moral responsibility to assist victims and accompany them on their journeys."

There was a 456-page investigation that goes into detail about 158 teachers, clergy, seminarians, and deacons within the Archdiocese of Baltimore who had allegedly assaulted more than 600 children going back to the 1940s. The document was compiled by the Maryland Attorney General.

Last month, a Baltimore judge ordered that all but three redacted names be lifted from the report on the history of sex abuse within the Archdiocese of Baltimore, according to CBS News.

Additionally, a Maryland law that was passed in April will reportedly see the statute of limitations lifted to allow for new claims about old acts of abuse to be investigated. The law was passed by the General Assembly.

"As I recently shared with you, as a result of a new law that takes effect October 1st the Archdiocese of Baltimore faces a great number of lawsuits of historic cases of child sexual abuse that were previously barred by Maryland law," Lori said.

Media partners at the Baltimore Banner noted that attorneys and victims of sexual abuse had planned to move forward with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of lawsuits against the archdiocese, but the recent bankruptcy announcement has brought litigation to a screeching halt.

"Chapter 11 is one of two types of bankruptcy. With an approved plan under Chapter 11, the Archdiocese will be reorganized, victim-survivors will be equitably compensated, and the Church will continue its mission and ministries," Archbishop Lori said. "This is different from Chapter 7 bankruptcy where organizations sell all of their assets to satisfy creditors and shutter their doors."

"The Church’s efforts to eradicate the scourge of child sexual abuse from our parishes, schools and ministries and to provide care and compensation to those harmed did not begin with today’s Chapter 11 reorganization, and our efforts most certainly will not end here," Lori continued. "This journey has included many steps over the past three decades ─ from our zero-tolerance policies, extensive training and reporting requirements and pastoral care to voluntary settlements offered to victim-survivors and today’s action."

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