Guam’s Catholic Church to File for Bankruptcy, Dodging Victim Lawsuits

The Catholic Church of the U.S. Territory of Guam will declare bankruptcy, allowing it to dodge $115 million in lawsuits from more than 180 claims of abuse and begin moving towards settlements, according to a Wednesday report from NBC News. The bankruptcy will freeze all current lawsuits and will establish a deadline for victims to file claims for financial reprieve. An attorney for the victims welcomed the announcement, noting that “Bankruptcy provides the only realistic path to settlement of pending and future claims.” So far, a church attorney said, the church has only settled two cases. The full scope of child sex abuse within Guam’s Catholic Church remains unclear: Last year, the Vatican ousted Archbishop Anthony Apuron, who had been accused of sexual abuse by alter boys. Since Apuron’s demise, NBC notes, many more cases have surfaced. “This path will bring the greatest measure of justice to the greatest number of victims,” said current archbishop Michael Byrnes. “That’s the heart of what we’re doing.”