ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — An attorney for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has claimed that alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse and their lawyers are seeking to eliminate the archdiocese in New Mexico by asking about the church’s holdings. Tom Walker, the archdiocese’s lawyer, made the claim during a court hearing Monday about three lawsuits alleging the archdiocese illegally transferred about $245 million to parishes and their trusts before the archdiocese filed for bankruptcy.
A lawyer for some victims, James Stang, called the accusations unconstructive and untrue. The archdiocese’s website lists 79 priests and clergy members who have been “credibly accused” of sexually abusing children.
The archdiocese previously filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in 2018 after a slew of child sexual abuse claims against clergy were reported. Walker said “we are trying to get the funds available for the settlement that we very, very much want,” adding that the archdiocese recently made a lawsuit settlement offer to the representatives of more than 370 alleged victims of child sexual abuse.
The archdiocese and parishes want the New Mexico lawsuits put on hold while they appeal an Oct. 9 ruling that allowed the alleged victims to pursue the cases, the Albuquerque Journal reported. Walker accused alleged victims of wanting to eliminate the physical presence of the church by forcing it to sell all its property as settlement for their lawsuit. The archdiocese is among 29 Catholic dioceses and religious orders in the U.S. that have filed for bankruptcy because of sexual abuse accusations.
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