Long Island Diocese Becomes Largest Catholic Diocese to File for Bankruptcy

(AP Photo/Andrew Medichini)

A new New York law on reporting requirements for victims of child sexual abuse has led to the eighth-largest Catholic diocese in the United States to file for bankruptcy because of an avalanche of sex-abuse suits.

The Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island was faced with more than 200 sexual abuse lawsuits after settling more than 300 suits since 2017. The new law, which lengthens the statute of limitations on reporting the crime and raises the reporting age from 23-28, was cited by the archdiocese in its statement.


“What became clear was that the diocese was not going to be able to continue to carry out its spiritual, charitable and educational missions if it were to continue to shoulder the increasingly heavy burden of litigation expenses associated with these cases,” Barres said in the video, adding that the COVID-19 pandemic added to the “severe” financial burden.

Barres said that the diocese’s ministries would continue, and that the filing would not affect employee wages or benefit programs. Parishes and schools are separate legal entities and expected to operate as normal.

The new law is wreaking havoc across the state.

The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo filed for Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy protection in February, also citing its “primary aim” was to resolve lawsuits brought under the new law. The Buffalo diocese cited about 250 sexual abuse lawsuits in its bankruptcy petition, adding that it “anticipates that in excess of 400 individuals may assert abuse claims.”

To this day, the church is trying to hide behind its vestments.

The Archdiocese of New York, the second-largest diocese in the nation, came under fire in 2019 when it identified 120 priests or deacons accused of sexually abusing a child or having child pornography.

“We will work diligently with all survivors, creditors and ministries to maintain open communication while we work toward our goal of a settlement and a restructuring plan that includes a comprehensive resolution for those suffering survivors,” Barres said.

This is a problem that came to the attention of the church in the 1980s — 40 years ago. And yet, the abuse continues and the church hierarchy continues to try and keep secrets.

Pope Francis has tried to address the problem. Like his predecessor Pope Benedict, Francis has encouraged victims to come forward and has made the church better at allowing intervention by law enforcement.

But in weeding out pedophiles and dealing with sexual issues of priests, the church has failed miserably. The abuse has destroyed more lives than can possibly be known. And there isn’t enough compensation in the world that will heal the wounds caused by the friendly neighborhood parish priest turned monster.