SACRAMENTO - The Roman Catholic Diocese of Stockton will file for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday.
In recent months, the diocese has intimated the decision was appearing more likely after paying settlements to victims of sexual abuse committed by diocese personnel.
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In Monday's news release, Bishop Stephen E. Blaire said the Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing will allow the diocese to plan how to compensate victims of sexual abuse, including those whose claims have not been adjudicated or have yet to come forward.
"Our first concern is to try to provide some compensation that is fair for the victims of clerical abuse," Blaire said.
Blaire said bankruptcy protection would mean that only the diocese itself would be responsible for any settlement money.
"Not the parishes, not the schools, not Catholic Charities," said Blaire.
But he acknowledged attorneys for plaintiffs would almost certainly try to go after funds in local parishes and ministries.
"The other corporations have all been advised to retain legal counsel because they could very well be challenged," Blaire said.
Some parishoners said they hope bankruptcy will allow the diocese to settle claims in a timely way and move forward without a cloud of ongoing cases in the background.
"I just hope it's a new page for the church and that we start rebuilding," said Maricela Franco.
The Stockton diocese is the 10th diocese in the U.S. to file for bankruptcy, Blaire said.