Bankruptcy -- it only makes sense. The Archdiocese of Agana announcing on Wednesday plans to file a Chapter 11 reorganization proceeding in the U.S. District Court of Guam sometime between mid-December and mid-January.
Bankruptcy counsel Ford Elsaesser announced, "For many dioceses, this is the only fair way to deal with the claims of the abuse survivors and at the same time provide for the continued operation of the mission of the church, including of course the parishes and the schools."
Archdiocese lead counsel Keith Talbot echoing those sentiments, saying, "Bankruptcy does two really good things for us: one is its finality. And finality is for the archdiocese going forward. Finality is also an option, it's an aspect of bankruptcy that's very helpful with insurance carriers. The other part is bankruptcy is the method to deliver the greatest measure of justice to the greatest number of victims. And it's obviously not only an objective for the archdiocese but the other co-defendants, but certainly the plaintiffs' counsel, as well."
The decision to file bankruptcy followed September efforts to mediate. Of the 180-plus clergy sexual abuse lawsuits, only two cases were settled - their settlement amounts not disclosed. The announcement comes ahead of Thursday's joint status conference in the District Court of Guam.
But, what does this mean for the local Church and its Catholic schools? It shouldn't mean much.
Other dioceses had no interruption to operations or services.
Archbishop Michael Byrnes said, "The reason we've made this move to pursue bankruptcy, is our commitment to the victim survivors. We are convinced this path will bring the greatest measure of justice to the greatest number of those victim survivors. That is the heart of what we're doing."
In a press release from Attorney Anthony Perez who represents a group of plaintiffs who've filed suit, the announcement is welcome news. He adds "just because the Archdiocese is filing for bankruptcy does not mean it will go out of business."