Albany Diocese Declares Bankruptcy
(For Immediate Release March 16, 2023)
In a move that, in our opinion, tries to prevent the public from realizing the scope of clergy sexual abuse that has occurred inside its borders, the Diocese of Albany, New York, filed for bankruptcy. This makes the 5th out of the 8 Catholic Dioceses in New York to do so.
As we see it, this proposed bankruptcy plan would limit a victim's ability to receive compensation and, more importantly, would prevent them from obtaining the bishop’s secret records, which would reveal the extent of past and ongoing cover-ups. The New York Child Victims Act was designed to give survivors access to the truth and a path to justice. It's difficult to imagine bankruptcy court is being used in Albany in good faith given how frequently Catholic jurisdictions have abused it in similar ways over the past few years.
In a statement to the press, Bishop Scharfenberger offered these remarks. “The decision to file was not arrived at easily and I know it may cause pain and suffering, but we, as a Church, can get through this and grow stronger together,” Scharfenberger’s statement said.
We would like to know to who Bishop Scharfenberger is referring when he mentions ‘pain and suffering?’ We know that victims have long held the liability and relived the pain daily with hopes of some level of justice and true reparation.
It is hard to believe the sincerity in the usual response by church officials that bankruptcy will ensure all claims are compensated. Given the history of abuse and failure to protect children under the long reign of disgraced Bishop Howard Hubbard. Bishop Hubbard minimized the terrible consequences that resulted from the reassignment of clergy accused of sexual misconduct by calling it a “flawed” system. To us, this sounds like more of the same from Catholic officials, admitting to one thing while ignoring a thousand others.
In reality, this is not about the cost of these cases but simply about keeping secrets, secret. We hope parishioners and the public in Albany will join us in voicing outrage over these legal tactics and demand that their church leaders commit to the transparency they promised so long ago.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)