.- The Diocese of Tucson may have filed for bankruptcy protection, but its Catholics are hardly bankrupt of their faith. Tucson Catholics are keeping their faith and are standing behind their bishop and his decision Monday to ensure the future of the diocese by filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Several parishioners told the Tucson Citizen that that they think Bishop Gerald Kicanas made the right decision and that they will continue to practice their faith and support the Church despite the current sexual-abuse scandal and allegations. Others said they now plan to make larger financial contributions to the diocese while some said this ordeal has made their faith grow stronger.
Parishioners have also taken the bishop up on his call to pray for the victims of sexual abuse and for healing in the diocese.
Bishop Kicanas had announced Monday that the diocese had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and had submitted a plan of reorganization to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the District of Arizona.
In a letter to parishioners of the diocese, the bishop said the bankruptcy declaration represents "the best opportunity for healing and for the just and fair compensation of those who suffered sexual abuse by workers for the Church in our diocese."
He urged Catholics to be compassionate and “reach out to all those who have been abused by workers for the Church."
The bishop said he believes the reorganization plan “is the best way for the diocese to work constructively with all those who are victims.”
It "will establish an orderly way, under the supervision of the Bankruptcy Court, by which those who have been harmed can make a claim and have that claim evaluated for possible compensation," he said.
There are 22 pending suits, filed by 33 plaintiffs, of alleged abuse. The filing of Chapter 11 automatically imposes a stay on all litigation. Plaintiffs in the lawsuits become claimants in the Chapter 11 case.
In a letter to victims of abuse, the bishop said bankruptcy protection is not a way for the diocese to avoid its responsibility to them.
"On the contrary," the bishop writes, "I truly see the reorganization process and the reorganization plan that we have submitted as the only and best way that the diocese can address its responsibility to you.
"I think of you with concern and with a longing to restore your trust and heal your hurt,” he said. “I truly hope that you will understand what has motivated my decision.
"To each of you I extend my deepest personal sorrow, and I communicate to you the sorrow of all the people of the Church of the Diocese of Tucson."
The bishop's letters about the filing are posted on the diocesan Web site www.diocesetucson.org.