San Bernardino Bishop Says Church Fund Won’t Go To Abuse Claims

The Diocese of San Bernardino will not use money parishioners have donated to build new churches to settle cases of clergy sexual abuse, Bishop Gerald R. Barnes said.

The diocese is named in at least 17 pending lawsuits by people who claim to have been sexually abused by priests.

“I believe we have sufficient insurance coverage and indemnification to (ensure) we can compensate victims and continue to carry on our mission of preaching the gospel,” Barnes said in a letter read in parishes over the weekend.

He explained that the Diocesan Development Fund is incorporated separately “and will not be used to settle cases of clergy sexual abuse.”

Barnes also told church members in the letter that the diocese does not expect to file for bankruptcy as the Diocese of San Diego did last week. That filing halted more than 140 lawsuits there just as a trial was scheduled to begin.

He asked parishioners to pray for the San Diego diocese, especially the victims and their families.

“Please pray and support your many fine priests who daily serve your needs, but also feel the shame, embarrassment and betrayal of their brothers who have committed these crimes,” he wrote.