The Diocese of Harrisburg filed for bankruptcy protection on Wednesday, becoming the first Catholic diocese in Pennsylvania to do so.
In August, the diocese announced it paid $12 million to more than 100 people who filed claims of sexual abuse against clergy and others working in the diocese. In 2018, a grand jury found that over seven decades, more than 300 Catholic priests in Pennsylvania sexually abused children, and their crimes were covered up by church leaders. Harrisburg was one of the six dioceses named in the grand jury's report.
Under Pennsylvania law, many of the victims are now too old to sue the dioceses — something that state lawmakers and advocates say they want changed. Since 2004, 20 Catholic dioceses in the United States have filed for bankruptcy protection.
Matthew Haverstick, an attorney for the Diocese of Harrisburg, told The Washington Post, "The diocese was in need of right-sizing. Bankruptcy is really the responsible way to do it, so it can continue to do all the things it does, spiritually and charitably." The diocese serves close to 250,000 Catholics across 15 counties.