Buffalo Diocese Becomes 2nd New York Diocese to File for Bankruptcy

Posted on: May 13, 2020 Catholic Church Sexual Abuse

Buffalo Diocese New York Diocese Files BankruptcyIn February of 2020, the Diocese of Buffalo became the second Diocese in New York state to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, after the first filing by the Diocese of Rochester in September of 2019. The church sites the new law passed by New York state’s legislators, dubbed the Child Victims Act, as the reason for bankruptcy filings. The new law gives survivors of childhood sexual abuse, whose statute of limitations has passed and were unable to hold their abusers accountable, the ability to file a claim during the one year ‘window’ which began in August 2019. The window was originally set to close on August 14, 2020 but was extended by Governor Andrew Cuomo on May 8th due to the coronavirus. The claims window is now set to close on January 14, 2021. The Child Victims Act has allowed thousands of sexual abuse survivors the ability to hold their abusers, and the organizations that were responsible, accountable.

The Buffalo Diocese cites the Child Victims Act as the reason for the bankruptcy filing and posted on its website that doing so was necessary in order to “continue uninterrupted its mission throughout Western New York, while working to settle claims with existing Diocesan assets and insurance coverages.” Thomas McKiernan, the president of the BishopAccountability.org, and organization that tracks the sexual misconduct of the Catholic church, expects many other dioceses in the state of New York to follow suit.

According to state Senator Brad Hoylman, who originally sponsored the bill in hopes that it would help sexual abuse survivors with the recovery process, criticized the church’s decision calling it a “strategic bankruptcy”. He further went on to say that the bankruptcy will likely limit the recovery of many who suffered at the hands of the church and that “It’s just another example of the church failing to take responsibility for its actions.”

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