Archdiocese Bankruptcy FAQs

Q: What does it mean when an Archdiocese or other institution files bankruptcy?

A: Chapter 11 reorganization is a voluntary legal process in which a debtor seeks to reorganize itself financially under court supervision. Usually a Chapter 11 debtor does not sell or “liquidate” everything they have to pay creditors (as is common in Chapter 7 bankruptcy). Chapter 11 reorganization allows a debtor to continue its ordinary operations while the bankruptcy process unfolds.

Q: Why would the Archdiocese of Baltimore file for bankruptcy?

A: When a diocese (or in this case the Archdiocese) files for Chapter 11 protection, all legal actions against that diocese and collection efforts brought by creditors are immediately paused through something called the “automatic stay.” This mandatory “pause” includes all lawsuits brought against the diocese for childhood sexual abuse. So by filing for bankruptcy, the Archdiocese of Baltimore will receive a “pause” of the lawsuits against it. Then, once in bankruptcy, it can try to negotiate a large, global settlement of all claims against it.

Q: Does the bankruptcy mean the Archdiocese has no assets?

A: No, the bankruptcy does not mean that the Archdiocese has no assets or that survivors will receive no compensation. The first step in the bankruptcy is to determine what assets the Archdiocese has to compensate survivors, including cash, property, and insurance.

Q: Have other Archdiocese filed for bankruptcy? If so, what has been the result?

A: Yes, nearly 40 dioceses have filed for bankruptcy. Many were consensually resolved and each has resulted in monetary settlements to survivors. The size of the settlements has varied due to the amount of the diocese’s assets, the number of claims submitted, availability of insurance coverage, and other factors.

Q: How long do I have to decide if I want to file a claim?

A: In our case, survivors are required to file a claim in the bankruptcy by the court-ordered deadline of May 31, 2024.

Q: How do I submit a claim?

A: Your claim must be filed by May 31, 2024 to be deemed timely. The standard proof of claim form can be downloaded. In addition to the proof of claim form, you should include supplemental information regarding the details of your claim. The Sexual Abuse Claim Supplement form, which is an optional form, is an example of the kind of information you should include with your claim. You can print your claim and mail it or you can submit your claim electronically.

Please visit this link for further instructions on how to submit a claim.

Q: Can I remain anonymous if I choose to file a claim?

A: Yes. Your identity will be kept confidential.

Q: Do I need an attorney to represent me in the bankruptcy case?

A: You may choose to retain an attorney to assist you; however, it is not a requirement.

Q: If I do not file a claim by the deadline of May 31, 2024, can I still do so?

A: Survivors who file a claim after May 31, 2024 may still submit a late-filed claim and make a request that the Court allow their claim.

Q: If the Archdiocese or another institution files for bankruptcy, can I still obtain documents and information on the perpetrator who sexually abused me?

A: Usually. In prior bankruptcies, survivors have negotiated non-economic settlement terms and disclosures as part of the reorganization plan. Although documents may ultimately be released as part of a reorganization plan, all documents obtained during the bankruptcy by the Committee must remain confidential during the bankruptcy case.

Q: If I file a claim, will the Archdiocese and its Parishes and Schools be forced to close?

A: This has not happened in any diocesan or religious order bankruptcy to date.

Q: Where can I find information on the Chapter 11 case?

A: Bankruptcy filings are public and are accessible on the Bankruptcy Court’s website at: and at

Q: How will survivors be compensated?

A: Something called a “Committee” was appointed at the beginning of the bankruptcy case to represent survivors of sexual abuse throughout the Archdiocese’s bankruptcy. That Committee is made up of people who are survivors of sexual abuse themselves, so they are very empathetic and focused on helping survivors. The Committee is permitted to hire attorneys and other professionals and the bankruptcy estate (the Church) has to pay for the related fees and costs of those professionals. Through its attorneys, the Committee attempts to negotiate a settlement with the Diocese that recovers as much money as possible to pay survivor claims and the Committee also negotiates child protection requirements to ensure that children are protected from abuse going forward. All of these negotiated terms are presented to the Court and creditors through something called a plan of reorganization and all creditors (including survivors) have a chance to review that document and vote for or against it. The Committee will also appoint a claims reviewer, who will review the survivor proofs of claim and allocate points based on guidelines that are written by survivors on the Committee and outlined in the plan of reorganization documents.

Q: When will survivors receive compensation and how much will they receive?

A: Unfortunately, an exact timeline cannot be predicted. But once a plan of reorganization is confirmed by the bankruptcy court, the trustee and claims reviewer, working independently from the Archdiocese, will determine the amount of compensation each survivor will receive based on guidelines written by survivors and approved by creditors through voting on the plan of reorganization (for more information on the plan of reorganization process, see the FAQ directly above this one).

Q: Where will the funds from the settlement come from?

A: Typically, the settlement will be funded through a combination of Archdiocesan assets, insurance settlements, and contributions from parishes and other catholic entities within the Archdiocese.

Q: How long does reorganization under a bankruptcy take?

A: There is no preset length for a bankruptcy and in many diocese cases the proceedings can take multiple years. It is in the Archdiocese’s best interests, however, to minimalize the length of time that the Archdiocese is in bankruptcy.

Q: Should I report my sexual abuse to law enforcement?

A: Survivors are encouraged to report any sexual abuse by anyone involved with the Archdiocese, regardless of when the abuse occurred.