NY Bishops’ Hidden Billions

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by David Nussman  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  February 15, 2021   

2018 insurance deal faces new scrutiny

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Bishops in New York are coming under fire for sheltering their assets. Times-Union in Albany, New York reported Thursday on a deal the state's bishops made in 2018.

The bishops sold off Fidelis Care — a massive health insurance company — and put $4.3 billion of the proceeds into the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, which provides grants to help vulnerable New Yorkers.

This move came just as New York lawmakers were considering the Child Victims Act. The legislation created a temporary window for victims of child sexual abuse to file suit even if the abuse happened many years ago.

According to the Times-Union, four of New York's eight Catholic dioceses have filed for bankruptcy in recent years, all amid a massive number of sex abuse claims. Declaring bankruptcy leads to a streamlined process for abuse payouts, where the court determines how much to dole out to victims in settlements, based on how much cash the diocese has. 

Though it's technically legal, lawyers who specialize in sex abuse cases have often criticized the strategy of shifting assets, saying it's unfair for abuse survivors.

It's a strategy seen in dioceses across the country.

As Church Militant reported in 2018, the archdiocese of Detroit created Mooney Real Estate Holdings and began transferring millions of dollars in church properties into the corporation — under the ownership of Abp. Allen Vigneron. The Detroit archdiocese also began establishing parishes as their own corporations, a move that further shields money from lawsuits and settlement payouts.

The report on New York's bishops is just the latest case of prelates protecting finances and leaving the Church with a black eye.

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