Archdiocese of New Orleans files for bankruptcy

CNA Staff, May 1, 2020 / 02:54 pm (CNA).- Under financial pressure from clerical abuse litigation compounded by the coronavirus crisis, The Archdiocese of New Orleans announced May 1 that its administrative offices are filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The filing will affect only administrative office of the archdiocese and will not impact schools, Masses, and other ministries. Archbishop Gregory Aymond said the decision was made after prayer and consultation.

“I, along with a team of advisors, believe that reorganization will create an opportunity for us to renew our commitment to the faithful and the New Orleans community by restructuring our financials, increasing our transparency and creating a path forward in hopes that we can continue and strengthen our core mission: bringing Christ to others,” he said.

The archbishop said the move will allow funds to be given directly to sex abuse victims rather than being tied up in prolonged litigation efforts. “The healing of victims and survivors is most important to me and to the church,” he said.

In a letter to members of the archdiocese, Aymond explained that recent years have seen financial struggles.

“The resurgence of the clergy abuse crisis has been particularly challenging, especially as it has played out regularly in the local media,” he said.

“The prospect of more abuse cases with associated prolonged and costly litigation, together with pressing ministerial needs and budget challenges, is simply not financially sustainable,” he continued. “Additionally, the unforeseen circumstances surrounding COVID-19 have added more financial hardships to an already difficult situation.”

The filing makes the Archdiocese of New Orleans the latest U.S. diocese to declare bankruptcy, following the wave of sexual abuse revelations made public in 2018. Earlier this year, the Dioceses of Harrisburg and Buffalo also filed for bankruptcy.

In late 2018, Aymond released a list of priests who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors. The archdiocese said last year that it had allotted more than $8 million for payment of abuse claims.

The archbishop clarified that “[f]iling for Chapter 11 does not mean the Archdiocese of New Orleans is closing, and we will certainly continue to pay our bills responsibly.”

He stressed that the move “only affects the archdiocesan administrative offices and will not affect the individual parishes, their schools, schools run by the various religious orders, or ministries of the church.”

Aymond said he believes Chapter 11 reorganization will allow for a timely resolution to abuse claims, contributing to the healing of those who have been harmed by members of the clergy.

“Very importantly, taking this action will allow us to address remaining clergy abuse claims, all of which stem from allegations dating back several decades ago, in a way that will allow funds to go directly to victims,” he said. “No money from parish collections will be used to resolve claims. Parish funds are separate from archdiocesan accounts and the pastor decides how those are used for parish ministry.”

Fr. Patrick Carr, vicar of finance for the Archdiocese of New Orleans, elaborated in a May 1 statement on what the bankruptcy filing will mean.

“Filing for Chapter 11 is a voluntary action that will allow the Archdiocese to implement a financial reorganization plan detailing how available assets and insurance coverage will be used to settle claims and negotiate reasonable settlements,” he said.

“Under the Court’s supervision, we will continue to minister to the people of our local church and to responsibly meet our payroll obligations and other costs,” Carr said. “Current creditors of the Archdiocese will be assured payment via a Chapter 11 plan of reorganization that will be approved and controlled by the Court.”

There is no concrete timeline for the reorganization to take place.

Archbishop Aymond asked for prayers during the process, asking for God’s grace that “the Archdiocese of New Orleans will emerge from this experience stronger with a renewed commitment to our mission.”


If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!

Click here for more information on donating to CWR. Click here to sign up for our newsletter.


  1. It is significant that this CNA fake-news report completely omits to mention the number of victims and predator clergy and the amount of the Archdiocese’s liability for its horrendous crimes.

    In fact, it appears from public news reports that the Archdiocese is preparing to squander between $100 million and $500 million of charitable assets contributed by the faithful in order to recompense victims of homosexual and pedophile clergy whom the Archdiocese ordained, supported, and protected:

    “Kevin Bourgeois, of the New Orleans chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called the filing “an act of cowardice” by church leaders, including Archbishop Gregory Aymond.

    “The overriding question is not one of legality, but one of morality. The FBI and the US Attorney should investigate the finances of this organization as they file for Chapter 11 protection,” Bourgeois said in an emailed statement.

    Friday’s filing includes a form saying the archdiocese assets are between $100 million and $500 million, with liabilities in the same range. The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate have reported, based on earlier court filings, that church assets include a $306 million endowment and $77 million in land and buildings.

    Bourgeois said he believes the archdiocese’s assets “far outweigh” liabilities.

    In 2018, the archdiocese released a list identifying more than 50 clergy members removed from the ministry over the years due to “credible accusations” of sexual abuse. There have been numerous lawsuits filed in state court over alleged abuse. Details of some have been made public, including those involving a defrocked deacon, named in several lawsuits resulting in $500,000 in settlements.”

  2. I am miffed. How can a religious organization, who pay no taxes,can rely on Americans who have a tax liability every year? Moreover, how can the hierarchy declare bankruptsy chapter 11 when they are the source of the clergy disgrace!

    • “How can a religious organization, who pay no taxes,can rely on Americans who have a tax liability every year?”

      Where do you think said religious organization should get the money that is needed? Nobody is forcing “Americans who have a tax liability every year” to give money to the Church.

      “Moreover, how can the hierarchy declare bankruptsy chapter 11 when they are the source of the clergy disgrace!”

      The primary source of the clergy disgrace is priests who chose to do evil. Those of the hierarchy who covered up the abuse (and who didn’t make sure that they weeded out bad applicants for the priesthood) are a secondary source. Neither fact has anything to do with filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

      A tertiary source is those who have cooperated in corrupting the culture so that the pool of candidates for the priesthood was tainted to begin with and the message the culture gave was “do whatever you want if it feels good.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

All comments posted at Catholic World Report are moderated. While vigorous debate is welcome and encouraged, please note that in the interest of maintaining a civilized and helpful level of discussion, comments containing obscene language or personal attacks—or those that are deemed by the editors to be needlessly combative or inflammatory—will not be published. Thank you.