NEW ORLEANS — The Archdiocese of New Orleans says that the cost of settling cases in the clergy abuse scandal is becoming too big of a strain financially. Friday, May 1, the archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond says that the move only affects the archdiocese administrative offices on Walmsley Avenue, Howard Avenue and a few other locations. Aymond says no parishes, schools or other agencies will be affected. He also says that the archdiocese’s insurance and investments will be used to pay for the restructuring and case settlements, not money from parishes.
“We know that there is fear among some that we’re going to be taking money from our parishes. We never have, and we never will,” Aymond said.
Aymond says that the restructuring will also help protect survivors and victims of clergy abuse. He says under Chapter 11, one judge will hear all of the cases and can ensure that compensation, including counseling and financial considerations, can be similar in every case. Otherwise, Aymond said, juries could hear cases individually, creating a wide range of inequitable outcomes.
Another big reason for restructuring under Chapter 11 is that it will allow the archdiocese to settle cases without also having to pay for the plaintiff attorneys’ fees of survivors and victims.
“We simply cannot afford the costly ligigation,” Aymond said. “It could take years for all this to be finished.”
Father Patrick Carr is the Vicar of Finance for the archdiocese. Previously, he worked as an accountant.
“Chapter 11 gives us the protection to carry on our normal operations and at the same time to deal with our liabilities,” Carr said.
The archdiocese hopes to emerge from Chapter 11 in a little more than a year with the scandals settled and in the past. Aymond wants parishioners to know that the allegations date back decades. He says that the archdiocese takes the claims seriously and there have been no recent allegations.