Parishioners in the Diocese of Tucson were told for the first time of the possibility of their diocese filing for bankruptcy during mass by their pastors this past weekend, reported the Tucson Citizen.
Chapter 11 bankruptcy is being considered by the diocese, which faces a high number of claims, alleging sexual abuse by priests and other employees.
Fr. Van A. Wagner, Tucson’s vicar general, is overseeing the diocese while Bishop Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas is out of the country.
He faxed a letter to all parish priests Friday, advising them to tell parishioners during weekend mass that bankruptcy appears likely. The diocese is currently reviewing its assets and parish records.
Chapter 11 protection would allow the diocese and parishes to keep operating while its assets are protected by the courts. Bankruptcy courts consider all the assets and claims against a corporation and decide fair compensation to creditors and claimants.
Parishioners told the Tucson Citizen Sunday of their support for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in order to deal with the situation.
The bishop is expected to make a final decision on the issue by mid-September.
The first diocese to go bankrupt in the U.S. was the diocese of Concordia, Texas, when, after the Depression, it became incapable of paying loans acquired to finance the construction of a Catholic college.
Most recently, and as a consequence of the Church scandals, the Archdiocese of Portland is the first one to file for bankruptcy.