Phoenix — The nationwide province of the Crosier Fathers and Brothers based in Phoenix filed June 1 to reorganize under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
"Given the number of claimants who came forward when the state of Minnesota opened the statute of limitations for asserting claims of sexual abuse, we believe a Chapter 11 reorganization is the only way that all claimants can be offered a fair and just resolution within the Crosiers' limited financial resources," said a June 1 statement from Crosier Fr. Thomas Enneking, prior provincial.
The Crosiers community is the third men's religious order to have sought bankruptcy protection. The Oregon province of the Jesuits filed in 2009 to reorganize its assets in the wake of abuse claims, and the Christian Brothers of Ireland filed in 2011. Fifteen Roman Catholic dioceses have filed from bankruptcy since 2004.
"All of the acts of abuse occurred more than 30 years ago. The Crosiers have attempted to find pastoral and healing solutions for those who were harmed, and we believe that a Chapter 11 reorganization allows us to resolve known pending claims simultaneously, manage our financial resources and continue to serve those in need through Crosier ministries," Enneking said.
There are 46 Crosiers serving in the United States.
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The Crosiers have already worked out a $25.5 million settlement plan with abuse survivors, according to the order and lawyers representing abuse survivors. The Crosiers have also agreed to make public the files of all credibly accused abusers, and they voluntarily released the names of abusive clergy several years ago.
"The Crosiers are doing the right thing by working with survivors in order to facilitate a transparent and fair resolution for everyone involved," said Mike Finnegan, an attorney with Jeff Anderson & Associates, which represents clergy sex abuse survivors.
The St. Paul, Minnesota, law firm said there are 43 sex abuse lawsuits pending in Minnesota against members and an employee of the Crosier order.
The Crosiers are being represented by Tucson attorney Susan G. Boswell and her law firm Quarles & Brady LLP, the lead bankruptcy attorneys for the Gallup, New Mexico, Diocese.
"Our hope is that reorganization under Chapter 11 will begin to bring this sad period in the Crosiers' history to a just resolution," Enneking said.
[Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola is a correspondent for the Gallup Independent, Gallup, New Mexico.]