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Rochester Diocese files for bankruptcy protection

The Catholic Diocese of Rochester filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this morning, stating in court papers that it will need to reorganize its financial affairs to respond to lawsuits stemming from the Child Victims Act in “an equitable and comprehensive manner.”

The Rochester diocese, which encompasses 12 counties and has more than 300,000 Catholics, neighbors the Diocese of Buffalo to the east.

Nineteen of the 20 largest unsecured claims listed were lawsuits brought against the Rochester Diocese under New York’s Child Victims Act, which on Aug. 14 suspended the statute of limitations for one year on civil claims in childhood sex abuse cases.

Rochester Bishop Salvatore R. Matano made the decision to file in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Western District of New York after consulting this week with the diocesan finance council and the College of Consultors, a group of adviser priests.

The Rochester diocese is the first in New York to file for bankruptcy. Nineteen other dioceses across the country have filed for bankruptcy since 2004 over sex abuse lawsuits.

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