HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Heavy costs related to a grand jury investigation into child sexual abuse by clergy left the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg in a financial crisis and it has no other choice but to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, Bishop Ronald Gainer announced Wednesday.
Gainer said reorganization bankruptcy will allow the diocese to continue its work and compensate its creditors.
“This is the correct path forward for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg while we are confronting a harsh reality,” Gainer said. “I hope that our parishioners can see that this action presents a path for our diocese to move forward.”
Gainer said the Harrisburg diocese was facing a “challenging financial condition” for a number of years prior to the grand jury subpoena in 2016. He said the investigation forced the diocese to incur heavy costs it was unable to budget for and limited the options available to correct the pre-existing financial trend.
The current financial situation, coupled with changes to Pennsylvania law, left the diocese with no other path forward, he said.
Gainer said a survivor compensation program helped 111 survivors of child sexual abuse, but the diocese is facing a half-dozen new lawsuits, any one of which could severely cripple it.
Six months ago, the diocese paid $12 million to victims of clergy abuse.
The grand jury investigation six Roman Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania identified over 300 “predator priests” and the officials who concealed their abuse, including 45 priests and others in the Harrisburg diocese.
Before the grand jury’s report was released in 2018, Gainer released the names of 38 priests and 34 other members of the church who had allegations made against them since the 1940s.
The diocese has a page on its website dedicated to its reorganization bankruptcy plan.