NEW ORLEANS (CNS) – Citing mounting concerns over the financial impact of clergy sex abuse settlements and the coronavirus pandemic, the Archdiocese of New Orleans filed for Chapter 11 reorganization of the finances of its administrative offices May 1 in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana.  

In a letter to Catholics of the archdiocese, Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond said the “difficult decision” to file for financial reorganization would allow the archdiocese to ensure that sex abuse victims have their claims resolved in “a fair and timely manner.” 

“Very importantly, taking this action will allow us to address remaining clergy abuse claims, all of which stem from allegations dating back several decades ago, in a way that will allow funds to go directly to victims,” the archbishop wrote. 

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The Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France and a statue of Andrew Jackson are seen in New Orleans June 3, 2019. The Archdiocese of New Orleans filed for Chapter 11 reorganization May 1, 2020. CNS photo

 

The archbishop said no parish funds would be used to resolve claims. 

“Parish funds are separate from archdiocesan accounts and the pastor decides how those are used for parish ministry,” he said. “My daily prayer is that this independent process brings about healing for those who have been harmed as a result of abuse by members of the clergy. The healing of victims and survivors is most important to me and to the church.”

He wrote the circumstances surrounding COVID-19 have added more financial hardships to an already difficult situation.

In acknowledging that the bankruptcy court now controls the process, the archbishop said he hoped the reorganization would be completed “as soon as possible” without any interruption in ministry. 

He also said he believed the process would allow the archdiocese to renew its “commitment to the faithful and the New Orleans community by restructuring our financials, increasing our transparency and creating a path forward” in serving its “core mission: bringing Christ to others.”