Monday, October 19, 2009

Wilmington Catholic Diocese Files For Chapter 11 Protection

Last night, the Catholic Diocese of Wilmington (covering Delaware and Maryland's Eastern Shore) became the seventh U.S. Catholic diocese to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The filing delays the trial that was scheduled to start today in a clergy sex abuse case against the diocese. AP reports that today's case was the first of over 100 filed under a 2007 Delaware law that gave victims a 2-year window to file even though the prior statute of limitations had run. (See prior posting.) In the bankruptcy filing, the diocese listed its assets as between $50 million and $100 million, with liabilities between $100 million and $500 million. Since 2002, the diocese has paid out $6.2 million to settle clergy sex abuse lawsuits, and additional undisclosed amounts to victims who did not file suit.

UPDATE: According to Thursday's Wilmington News Journal, attorneys for clergy abuse victims will ask the bankruptcy court to include property of the parishes along with diocesan property as assets in the bankruptcy proceeding. The Diocese is incorporated under Delaware's nonprofit corporation law, while each parish is individually incorporated under either the Delaware or Maryland statue relating to religious societies or religious corporations.