Tuesday, 20 July 2021

Catholic Abuse News - Compensation for Victims of Paedophile Priests Bankrupts Yet Another Diocese

Bishop Michael R Cote
“grievously sorry.”
Connecticut diocese files for bankruptcy amid abuse claims

In common with many other American Catholic diocese, the diocese of Norwich, Connecticut has declared itself bankrupt and applied for Chapter 11 protection. This is often a devise to protect church funds from claimants and ensure victims are denied the compensation they are entitled to while the diocese hangs on to the funds it needs to pay its expenses such as the wages and pensions of those who oversaw the abuses.

This action was precipitated by dozens of lawsuits of victims of the regime that ran the now closed Academy at Mount Saint John School, a residential treatment centre for 'troubled youth' in Deep River. They are also suing the former Bishop of Norwich, Daniel Reilly.

According to this report in Religion News Service:
In 2018, an initial 24 men filed lawsuits against the Diocese of Norwich and former Bishop Daniel Reilly, claiming they were fondled, sodomized and raped while attending the Academy at Mount Saint John by two Christian brothers and at least two other staff members between 1986 and 2000. The boys, who were between 11 and 15 years old, had been placed at the now-defunct school by the state Department of Children and Families or the state’s court system. DCF was not named as a defendant in those lawsuits.
In documents filed in support of the Chapter 11 Protection, the diocese claimed it had liabilities of $50 million to $100 million owed to between 50 and 99 claimants, and assets of only $10 million to $50 million. These assets do not include those of parishes, cemeteries, schools and religious orders.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan,
Put Milwaukee Church funds out of the reach of victims
In a similar case in the Diocese of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 2015, it was revealed that large payments had been made out of the diocese general fund into a specially set-up trust fund to run cemeteries, shortly before the bankruptcy application. At the time, the archbishop of Milwaukee, Timothy Dolan, wrote to Pope Benedict, boasting that:
By transferring these assets to the Trust, I foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability.
In other words, the device was a deliberate attempt to deny the victims of his priests the compensation to which they were legally entitled.

Shortly after, Dolan was promoted to cardinal and given the prestigious archdiocese of New York.

Norwich is the 31st US Catholic organisation to seek Chapter 11 protection. Last October, the New York Catholic diocese of Rockville Center, which includes much of Long Island, sought protection following a torrent of claims, when New York state suspended the statute of limitations, meaning abuse victims who were out of time could now claim against the Church.

As well as the Mount Saint John School claim, the diocese of Norwich also faces claims from the victims of 43 priests who have been named by Bishop Michael R. Cote as having had "allegations of substance" against them. At the time of this announcement in 2019, the diocese had paid out $7.7 million to settle 9 cases and had 23 outstanding.

As always, and despite Pope Francis' declared determination to see that all his priests' many victims are fully compensated, the first priority of those whose livilihood depends on it, is to protect the church and its assets, often at the expense of its victims. So far, there has been no sign of Vatican funds being used to achieve the declared objective of adequate compensation and victims are left to share out the meger remains of local diocese assets that haven't been placed beyond their reach by Chapter 11.

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