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Monday, 2 December, 2002, 02:36 GMT
US diocese 'under bankruptcy threat'
Cardinal Bernard Law`
Cardinal Law presides over the diocese

The Catholic Church in Boston is considering filing for bankruptcy after more than 400 people who claim to have been sexually abused by priests prepare to sue the archdiocese, one of the city's major newspapers has reported.

The Boston Globe says that the Archdiocese is preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, which would shield it from civil lawsuits from victims.

Protesters
Victims' groups accuse the Church of putting clergy first
An estimated 450 people have so far filed lawsuits amounting to hundreds of millions of dollars against the Boston Archdiocese alleging sexual abuse by priests.

The scandal erupted earlier this year after the Church released files showing that an accused paedophile priest was moved from parish to parish by his superiors, who chose to ignore the allegations against him.

Admission of negligence

Now, the Church is reportedly preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. This would halt the civil action against them and prevent new lawsuits from being filed.

It would combine the hundreds of claimants into one group and give the Church time to reorganise its finances.

It would also amount to an admission by the Church that it was negligent in handling priests accused of sexually abusing children.

Such a move by the Archdiocese would be without precedent here in the United States.

If it does decide to file, it has 120 days to submit a settlement plan.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Fergal Parkinson
"It's a very risky move for the church"
Mitchell Garabedian, alleged victims' lawyer:
"The Church... has been using diversionary tactics for years"
The Church has been rocked by recent abuse revelations

Boston cardinal quits

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13 Nov 02 | Americas
11 Nov 02 | Americas
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