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The Roman Catholic Bishop of Oakland

Filing Date
May 8, 2023
Case Number
Northern District of California

Assets: $100M-$500M

Liabilities: $100M-$500M


On May 08, 2023 The Roman Catholic Bishop of Oakland filed for chapter 11 protection in the Northern District of California (Case No. 23-40523). The Debtor reports Assets of $100M-$500M and Liabilities of $100M-$500M. The Petition states funds will be available to Unsecured Creditors.

Per Claims Agent:
Debtor Represented by:

Thomas F. Carlucci

Foley & Lardner LLP

Company Information:

2121 Harrison Street

Suite 100

Oakland, CA 94612

Map to Debtor
The Diocese of Oakland serves the needs of the Catholic faithful in Alameda and Contra Costa counties in the San Francisco Bay Area. The Diocese consists of 345 priests, 110 deacons and 455 religious brothers and sisters in 82 parishes, 11 pastoral cen...

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Press Release:

OAKLAND, Calif., May 8, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- The Roman Catholic Bishop of Oakland ("RCBO") ( announced today the filing of a voluntary petition for bankruptcy relief under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The filing is necessary in light of the more than 330 lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse brought against RCBO under a recent California statute that allowed decades-old claims otherwise time barred and expired to be filed.  

All Catholic schools that operate in the diocese are part of separate legal entities and therefore not included in the filing. They will continue to operate as normal. The mission and ministries of RCBO also will continue during the restructuring process and beyond. Employees will be paid as usual, and their benefit programs will continue uninterrupted. Vendors will be paid for all goods and services delivered after the filing.

RCBO will continue to serve the 550,000 Catholics in the East Bay and carry out its many works of mercy through its parishes and pastoral centers.  

Most of the claims brought under the most recent California statute stem from allegations of sexual abuse that occurred in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s by priests who are no longer active in ministry and/or deceased. Chapter 11 is a court-supervised, transparent process that allows for the evaluation of the merits of each claim and gives claimants a say in the outcome and visibility into the proceedings and RCBO's finances. With the Chapter 11 filing, legal actions against RCBO will stop, allowing RCBO to develop a plan of reorganization, based on assets and insurance coverage available to be used to settle claims with abuse survivors.

"After careful consideration of the various alternatives for providing just compensation to innocent people who were harmed, we believe this process is the best way to ensure a fair and equitable outcome for survivors. It will also allow RCBO to stabilize its finances and continue the sacred mission entrusted to us by Christ and the Church," said Bishop Michael C. Barber, SJ. "Given our current financial resources, RCBO could not shoulder the burden of litigating 330 cases filed under the recent California Assembly Bill 218."

"It is important we take responsibility for the damage done so we can all move beyond this moment and provide survivors with some measure of peace," he said. "Sadly, for many, the pain caused by these horrific sins, no matter when they occurred, will never wash away, which is why we offer support to survivors and pray for their continued healing."

RCBO has taken exhaustive steps to safeguard children and vulnerable adults. Ten years before the U.S. bishops approved the groundbreaking Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in 2002, RCBO established what today is known as the Minor Diocesan Review Board, comprised over the years of such individuals as prosecutors, educators, social workers, therapists, and survivors. Its mandate is to assess allegations of sexual abuse involving children and vulnerable adults brought against a diocesan cleric. The independent, confidential body also advises the bishop in determining the suitability for ministry of accused priests or deacons.

Through the Diocesan Office of Victims Assistance, counseling and support is provided to survivors of clergy abuse and their families. To safeguard children and vulnerable adults, all clergy, volunteers, and employees of the Diocesan entities are required to participate in training about the nature of child sexual abuse, how it is perpetrated, how to report it, and strategies for prevention. To provide additional safeguards, clergy, volunteers, and employees undergo background checks before they can be of service. RCBO and affiliated Diocesan entities are the largest employer group to participate in the Live Scan finger printing program for all clergy, employees, and volunteers in the East Bay.

The Chapter 11 filing comes at a time when dioceses nationwide face the challenge of declining participation of Catholics, an aging and decreasing clergy, and underutilized parish facilities. For instance, in Oakland, Mass attendance dropped 42% in 2021 from 2019 due to the pandemic and was off 46% from the five-year average.  To align the needs of the ministries, parishioners, and priests with the financial realities, Bishop Barber in March 2021 appointed a task force comprised of laity and clergy called the Mission Alignment Process (MAP) Commission to make recommendations for addressing these challenges. Their efforts are ongoing and expected to take several years to implement but have already resulted in a recent merger of parishes.

This is the second time California has allowed time barred or expired cases of child sexual abuse to be filed by alleged survivors. In 2003, California created a similar window. At that time, RCBO resolved the 52 lawsuits filed against it using insurance funds, selling property, and securing loans.

The Roman Catholic Bishop of Oakland Chapter 11 case has been filed in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Northern District of California. Additional general information can be found on the Diocesan website at and court-related information can be found at

The Diocese of Oakland serves two counties in the East Bay region, Alameda and Contra Costa, and includes approximately 550,000 Catholics in 84 parishes.

SOURCE The Roman Catholic Bishop of Oakland

Note: we do not represent the Debtor in this case and this information is obtained from automated sources and may not be 100% accurate.
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