(New York, NY) – Earlier this week, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Martin Glenn stated that he is considering dismissing the bankruptcy of the Diocese of Rockville Centre, which is one of the largest Dioceses in the United States and serves approximately 1.5 million people.
Judge Martin Glenn also said he was not eager to be the first judge to kick a Catholic Diocese out of bankruptcy, but believes it may become necessary if the Diocese of Rockville Centre cannot make progress towards settling abuse claims of survivors.
Judge Glenn even stated that, “The survivors deserve an opportunity to be heard by a jury of their peers…They’ve been held off too long.”
We are encouraged that a New York judge is expressing skepticism about a bishop’s prolonged Chapter 11 Bankruptcy process. We hope this development will make other Catholic officials think long and hard before they try to exploit federal laws to keep clergy sex crimes covered up and deny justice to long-suffering survivors.
We agree with Judge Glenn’s statement on how survivors have already had to wait too long to take action. Many of these survivors were abused decades ago, and they are finally, just now, getting the chance to take their power back and use their voices.
Judge Glenn also states that he would not allow the Diocese to keep abuse survivors in bankruptcy “until you beat them down and they finally relent.” It’s reassuring to see a judge understand and denounce the delaying tactics that Catholic officials use time and time again in virtually all abuse and cover-up litigation, but especially in Chapter 11 Bankruptcy cases.
History has taught us that Catholic officials declare bankruptcy for selfish reasons, not financial ones: to preserve their reputations even more than their assets. They want to keep the crimes and cover-up of said crimes buried. Bankruptcy brings an abrupt halt to disclosures about which priests or clergy committed and concealed child sex crimes. That’s a self-serving strategy. It’s a hurtful strategy that negatively impacts victims, parents, police, prosecutors, parishioners, and the public. The diocese also uses Chapter 11 to hide assets and its true ability to compensate survivors.
When Catholic officials deem it advantageous, they claim the worldwide church is not overly structured, and no other church institution – the Vatican, other dioceses – can lend them funds when they face civil abuse and cover-up lawsuits. Yet, on the other side of the coin, when they deem it advantageous, they claim they can’t do more to oust predator priests because the church is a rigid hierarchy with all the real decisions made in Rome. This is disingenuous at best and hurtful at worst.
When Catholic officials discuss bankruptcy, we fear – and believe – that some wounded survivors will stay trapped in shame, silence, and self-blame. Some feel worried and guilty at the suggestion or possibility that speaking up might cause financial hardship for their diocese or church. That, of course, is tragic. Only when victims come forward, do predators get caught and children get protection.
So, we implore anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered clergy sex crimes and cover-ups to continue to courageously report these horrors so that they might be prevented in the future.
“It’s a grievous strategy that the bishops made choices to hide and protect offenders – which is compounded by the choice to use Chapter 11 to avoid accountability.” – Jeff Anderson