Catholic Christian Brothers order files for bankruptcy

By Laura L. Myers
SEATTLE | Fri Apr 29, 2011 1:59am EDT
(Reuters) – The North American branch of the Christian Brothers, a Roman Catholic order that runs schools around the world, has filed for bankruptcy protection amid mounting sexual abuse claims against U.S. and Canadian members.

Although the bankruptcy filing was made in New York, where the brothers’ North American chapter is headquartered, the bulk of the abuse claims come from the Seattle area, said Michael Patterson, a lawyer for the Catholic Archdiocese in Seattle.

“It’s a sad day. We’re very disappointed that it reached this level,” Patterson told Reuters on Thursday night.

“We had hoped that we could have partnered with the Christian Brothers to settle claims. What this means is that victims now have to deal with this out of bankruptcy court.”

He said he did not know the extent of the claims.

But lawyers for the plaintiffs in lawsuits against the Christian Brothers said its members, who are not ordained as priests, sexually abused scores of children in the United States and Canada.

Seattle attorney Michael Pfau said on Thursday he has settled more than 50 abuse cases for a total of $25.6 million, paid out to victims in the last five years by the order and the Seattle Archdiocese.

About 35 of those cases originated with the now-defunct Briscoe Memorial School, an orphanage and boarding school jointly run by the archdiocese and Christian Brothers in Kent, Washington.

“There were rapes, molestations and beatings. The brothers carried long leather straps. It was a very abusive place,” Pfau told Reuters.

Most lawsuits still pending involve allegations of sexual abuse at schools and orphanages the Brothers owned and operated in Washington state and Canada, he said, adding that the order filed for bankruptcy in a bid to shield its assets in Rome.

“They made money taking over the care of children but put many of their members who were known abusers in charge of them,” Pfau said. “Then they tried to cover it up. This bankruptcy is just another effort for them to avoid responsibility.”

A spokesman for the order reached by telephone on Thursday declined to comment.

The bankruptcy filing comes weeks after the Pacific Northwest branch of another Catholic order, the Jesuits, agreed to pay $166 million to settle more than 500 child sexual abuse claims against priests, nuns and other non-clergy. Those claims led the Jesuits to file for Chapter 11 two years ago.

Last year, the Congregation of Christian Brothers came under fire over a report by the government of Ireland finding widespread sexual abuse of children in schools and other institutions run by the order in that country.


5 Responses to “Catholic Christian Brothers order files for bankruptcy”

  1. Portia says:

    pauline – they are the richest organisation IN THE WORLD.

  2. when we were children in these places the stuff we made was sold to buy property. So in ireland lots of places bought by the church was paid for from child labour. thers were no cleaning staff in goldenbridge before the mid 60s. all the upkeep was done by children. its seems amazing that thay are allowed to plead poverty when thay are the richest organisation in ireland. and that thay are allowed to keep this money. it was illigaly earned. We all know this but nothing has changed as yet. who is helping them to keep abusers out of prison .

  3. Portia says:

    I suggest the Vatican Bank – the RICHEST Bank on Mother Earth be used to withdraw money from to pay compensation. After all, that money was taken from other human beings in wars , plunder and paid in by the sheeple – so in truth all the wealth of Vatican belongs to the people of Earth and now can be used to pay compensation and the rest distributed for humanitarian projects.

    Why do the men of god not think logically like this? We could feed and clothe and house all humans on our planet with this wealth. What use does it serve hidden in vaults etc? None. It is not as if the men of god can take it with them in their coffins either.

  4. well thier money is proberly to be found in offshore accounts.

  5. Paddy says:

    Is the same scenario looming up here? Paddy

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