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ALBANY, N.Y. (ChurchMilitant.com) - The Catholic diocese of Albany, New York is joining the ranks of numerous U.S. dioceses to file for bankruptcy due to sex abuse lawsuits.
Albany's Bp. Edward Scharfenberger officially announced the Chapter 11 filing on Wednesday, after the diocese was inundated with sex abuse allegations from more than 400 alleged victims. Some allegations go back decades.
"Diocesan resources are limited," Scharfenberger lamented. "Even though mediation was not moving forward, we have separately resolved and settled more than 50 of the 400+ cases. We don't have the resources to settle anymore."
On February 14, 2019, former New York governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law the Child Victims Act, which instituted a two-year look-back window for sex abuse victims to file civil lawsuits that had already passed the statute of limitations.
In 2020, Scharfenberger also filed for bankruptcy as the apostolic administrator of the Buffalo diocese.
Jeff Anderson, an attorney representing many of the alleged victims, commented, "We urge everyone to see the Diocese's strategy for what it is: chicanery designed to perpetuate a $600 million corporation's pattern of decadence, deception, and denial."
Albany is the 29th U.S. diocese to file for bankruptcy, a tactic used by bishops to shield their assets and hide other damning information that could come to light if the case were to go to trial.
The dioceses of Albany and Santa Rosa, California, have filed for bankruptcy this week, joining those of Agana (Guam), Buffalo, Camden, New Orleans, Norwich, Rochester, Rockville Centre, San Juan (Puerto Rico), Santa Fe and Syracuse — all currently undergoing Chapter 11 proceedings.
All legal actions against a diocese grind to a halt once bankruptcy filings are made. Josh Saul, a reporter for Bloomberg, reported on the legal maneuver bishops are shamelessly employing, declaring, "A lot of archdiocese [sic], before they file bankruptcy, they make moves. They shift assets, they recategorize assets in ways that shrink the pot of money that's available to victims."
The recent "reorganization" plans many dioceses are seeking to implement have served as a cover for the bishops to sneak their assets into different holdings that victims can't access. It also allows them to gain even more control over their priests.
Scharfenberger took over the Albany diocese in 2014 after the retirement of homosexual Bp. Emeritus Howard Hubbard. Hubbard was known for being in favor of ordaining gay men to the priesthood and was described as the "ringleader of a homosexual network" operating in his diocese.
As bishop, Hubbard covered up for many homosexual predator priests within the diocese. He was also a central figure in the 2004 mysterious death of Fr. John Minkler, a whistleblower priest in the diocese, who had met privately with Hubbard just two days earlier.
Last year, Hubbard released a statement in which he revealed he petitioned the Vatican to be laicized. He also denied claims against himself, declaring he will "vigorously" defend himself against any allegations. The Vatican has not yet publicly announced any decision on the matter.
Hubbard also implied that the Albany diocese had barred him from public ministry. The diocese has denied that, stating, "It is he alone who voluntarily removed himself from any public celebration of sacraments."
With the majority of diocesan bankruptcy filings, clerical sex abuse and other corruption have been covered up by gay or gay-friendly bishops.
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