Diocese of New Orleans Declares Bankruptcy, SNAP Responds
Church officials in New Orleans have decided to declare bankruptcy, a move that is less about protecting assets and more about protecting secrets.
This a disappointing but not surprising move, as Archbishop Gregory Aymond now follows in the footsteps of dozens of catholic officials who have chosen to declare bankruptcy rather than allow survivors of clergy sexual abuse to bring their claims forward in open court.
Bankruptcy proceedings often lead to increased secrecy as church officials typically use the bankruptcy process to freeze discovery, which freezes the discovery of exactly who enabled abuse, and how. This decision is not good for survivors nor today's Catholics because living predators can remain hidden, their enabler still in power. The only people this decision helps are the church officials who have enabled and hidden abuse.
In short, bankruptcy will shield Aymond from being forced to testify what he and his predecessors did to empower, enable, and cover up the abuse of innocents.
With this decision, the citizens of New Orleans will have another example of the priorities of the Archdiocese of New Orleans – retaining power, protecting reputations, and saving money. It is highly unlikely that an institution with such a wealth of assets as the Archdiocese of New Orleans is truly bankrupt, and church officials have long hidden money and assets in order to protect them when they choose this secretive route.
We call on Governor John Bel Edwards to intervene in this bankruptcy in any way that he can. We also call on A.G. Jeff Landry to use the powers of his office, including subpoena power, to get to the answers and secrets that church officials are trying to keep secret by moving to bankruptcy court. It is through secular officials like these that the public will learn the truth, so we hope that they will intervene and investigate as soon as possible.
(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)