SNAP says Diocese of Oakland doesn't deserve to declare bankruptcy

(For Immediate Release May 8, 2023) 

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland today filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, a move that we believe is an attempt to deny justice and transparency to the more than 330 survivors who have lawsuits for child sexual abuse pending against the Diocese.

Everything about this bankruptcy strikes us as wrong. It is all about keeping money and secrets. From one coast to the other, the same ruse is being used by Catholic bishops. Minimize and cover-up child sex crimes, while keeping abusers in ministry. Then, fight against changes to the statute of limitations which would expose those crimes. Finally, when secular laws provide a window to justice, go to federal bankruptcy courts and pretend that they are out of money.

The Diocese of Oakland is surely morally bankrupt, it seems to us, but they do not deserve to be declared financially bankrupt. The Diocese owns a Cathedral worth $200 million. It has hundreds of acres of land in Piedmont, Orinda, Lafayette, and Danville. Except for character and integrity, it is not poor.



We would like to know if Bishop Barber considers the 330 innocent victims who have filed lawsuits against his Diocese? These wounded souls were members of the Oakland Diocese. They had been baptized and confirmed, worked as altar servers, or attended Catholic schools. Their families trusted the priests who assaulted their children, and those families donated time and money to the Diocese. They effectively compensated the clergy who had damaged their children's lives.


Moreover, we think it is important to recognize that this bankruptcy does not just affect those survivors who have filed lawsuits. Once the deadline for filing claims in a bankruptcy has passed, injuries inflicted before that deadline are all extinguished. Even a six-year old, who is being abused now, but whose assaults end before the deadline, would be prevented from recovering restitution for their damages. 

There are 80 parishes in Oakland, and if there are 330 victims so far, that could well mean every single parish and school in the Diocese harbored abusers.

Oakland’s founding bishop, Floyd Begin, is accused of sexually abusing a child. Oakland's longest-serving Vicar General, George Crespin, is accused multiple times. Fr. Crespin is still alive. Other clerics who are named in lawsuits are still alive. Some were still working when accused.

We believe that Bishop Barber does not want these men testifying under oath. He does not want to reveal how many times Bishop Begin appears in his secret files. Bishop Barber does not want the public to know how Fr. Crespin -- himself accused multiple times of abuse -- managed the many complaints he received while Vicar General. Secrets keep you sick, but bankruptcy is not the antidote.

We are calling on our federal lawmakers to examine these bankruptcies closely. The government should see through the charade and force the Oakland Diocese to confront these cases one at a time so that juries can hear the evidence and the testimony of victims, decide the harm, and award just damages.

Contact: Dan McNevin, SNAP Treasurer ([email protected], 415-341-6417), Melanie Sakoda, SNAP Survivor Support Coordinator ([email protected], 925-708-6175), Joey Piscitelli, SNAP Northern California ([email protected], 925-262-3699), Dorothy Small, SNAP Sacramento ([email protected], 530-908-3676), Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 35 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is

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