The Chapter 11 Reorganization Plan for the Diocese of Gallup has been formally approved as of June 2016. This page will continue to be updated with the final terms and information regarding the plan.
Click here to view all public court documents relating to the reorganization, dating back to November 2013, when the Diocese first filed.
There are 17 non-monetary provisions that the Diocese of Gallup must either continue to implement as it has in the past, or add into its standard practices. These provisions are:
- The Diocese of Gallup must implement specific policies and procedures for preventing abuse of minors and vulnerable persons, and display these procedures for public access on its website. (Find our policies and procedures here)
- The Diocese must continue to fund mandatory training on reporting abuse for all employees and clergy in active ministry. (Click here to view a list of all upcoming VIRTUS Trainings)
- The Diocese must comply will all laws regarding reporting of abuse, and inform all agents and employees to report any abuse within Diocesan territory. (List of law enforcement contacts)
- The Diocese will direct all agents and employees to not refer to claimants as “alleged” claimants, “alleged” victims or “alleged” survivors, but instead refer to claimants as “survivors of clergy sexual abuse” of “survivors of sexual abuse perpetrated by lay employees” (this does not necessarily apply to claimants who come forward after Chapter 11 settlement, at least until their allegation is deemed credible by the Diocese or law enforcement).
- For at least 10 years, the Diocese must post on its website the list of names of all know priests or employees who have had credible claims brought against them. (Link to list of credibly accused clergy or church workers)
- The Diocese must provide a way for a survivor to tell their story, if they request it. To tell your story: Contact Elizabeth Terrill at 505-906-7357 and [email protected] and arrangements will be made
- Within 60 days of settlement, the Bishop must send a letter of apology to all claimants and, if requested, their family members, unless the claimant requests that they do not want a letter. The letter must state that the survivor was not at fault for the abuse and that the Diocese takes personal responsibility for the abuse. The Bishop must sign each letter personally.
- The Bishop will personally visit each parish or school in which abuse is alleged to have occurred or where an identified abuser served. The schedule for these visits must be published 30 days in advance inviting survivors to attend. The visit will have a place for a discussion and for the Bishop to answer questions. The Bishop must also be available for a private meeting with any Chapter 11 claimant.
- The Diocese must provide counseling if needed to all claimants. Contact Elizabeth Terrill at 505-906-7357 and [email protected] and arrangements will be made
- The Diocese must retain a person responsible for assisting victims of sexual abuse, and this person should be easily contacted and available. In the Diocese of Gallup: our Victims Assistance Coordinator is Elizabeth Terrill, who can be reached at 505-906-7357 and [email protected].
- Each operating parish and school must display a plaque which reads “This parish or school is strongly committed to the emotional, physical, spiritual and moral wellbeing of all of its members. Abuse of any kind will not be tolerated.”
- The Diocese will not require a confidentiality provision in any future settlements, unless requested by the survivor.
- The Diocese must publish these 17 non-monetary provisions on its website for a period of 5 years after the settlement.
- As long as the magazine of the Diocese, The Voice of the Southwest, remains in publication, 4 times a year for 5 years after the settlement, it must publish a prominent statement urging victims of abuse to contact law enforcement, Diocesan Victim’s Assistance Coordinator, health care professional, or other trusted person to make a report of abuse.
- The Diocese will provide status reports to the Chapter 11 trustee semi-annually for 2 years regarding compliance with these undertakings.
- Claimants must be allowed to view the priest file of their abusers, if requested, but they will be held to a confidentiality agreement which does not allow duplication of the file in any way.
- Counsel for the survivors’ committee must hold these priest files for 1 year after the settlement date, and on the first anniversary of the settlement date, those files will be destroyed.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Chapter 11?
The United States has established federal bankruptcy laws: the “Bankruptcy Code” and Bankruptcy Rules, which govern bankruptcy cases, all of which are filed and resolved in federal courts, not state courts. The Bankruptcy Code itself is a body of laws divided into chapters by number. The chapters by which an individual or company can get relief are 7, 11, 12, and 13. Chapter 11 is available for non-profit organizations, such as the Diocese of Gallup. Chapter 11 is for “reorganizations”, or restructuring of debt, and sometimes for restructuring of the organization itself.
Why did the Diocese decide to undergo Chapter 11?
The Diocese of Gallup is one of the poorest in the United States. Nearly all of our income is generated from outside sources: grants, donations, and appeals. We recognize that we have a duty to compensate survivors of abuse, and at the same time we need to continue in our everyday ministries and operations.
If we had addressed the abuse claims one-by-one through lawsuits, the first few claimants may have been able to receive compensation, but the resources of the Diocese would be drained, potentially leaving no resources for other claimants or for our daily operations. A lawsuit is also an expensive, draining process for all parties involved.
Therefore, Chapter 11 gave the Diocese of Gallup the opportunity to seek out all abuse survivors and address their needs. Chapter 11 is not an attempt to avoid the responsibilities of the Diocese. In fact, it permitted us to hear the voices of all abuse survivors and address their claims fairly, rather than dealing with each claim on a first-come, first-serve basis.
How are the needs and claims of the survivors addressed?
Survivors of abuse deserve to have their voices heard and their needs addressed. During the Chapter 11 process, a committee comprised of only the survivors was formed. The committee had its own lawyer to represent it and the interests of all the survivors, with the lawyer’s fees covered by the Diocese. The survivors’ committee was active and involved during every step of the process, shaping the survivors’ recoveries in the Chapter 11 plan.
The Chapter 11 process has designated around $22 million for compensation for the survivors, including their lawyers’ fees. In addition, the survivors’ other needs are addressed, including counseling, personal apology letters from the Bishop of the Diocese, and prayer services or gatherings with the Bishop held at each parish in the Diocese where an instance of abuse occurred.
Many of the terms of the settlement address how the Diocese shall handle claims of abuse in the future. Some of these, such as mandatory reporting of allegations to authorities, employee background checks, and yearly abuse awareness trainings, were previously implemented by the Diocese. Other terms, such as a fund to compensate future claims, were addressed as part of the process.
How many claimants are there?
How many clergy and personnel have accusations against them?
At this point, the Diocese has released the names of 31 credibly accused clergy and personnel. The list is still subject to updates and can be found on our website: dioceseofgallup.org/credibly-accused.
Where is the $25 million coming from?
The final Implementation Account includes the following:
-$3,020,000 from the Diocese of Gallup
-$11,550,000 from Catholic Mutual
-$300,000 from the Franciscan Provinces of Our Lady of Guadalupe
-$1,850,000 from the United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company, the insurer of the Franciscan Province of St. John
-$3,750,000 from the Home Insurance Liquidation Allowed Claim
-$1,850,000 from New Mexico Property and Casualty Insurance Guaranty Association
-$500,000 from Diocese of Gallup Parishes
-$300,000 from the Diocese of Phoenix
-$515,000 from Southwest Indian Foundation
-$665,000 from the Catholic Peoples Foundation
Why are the parishes mentioned, and how will they be affected?
No parishes, churches or missions are being sold or closed as a result of this settlement (although some property not used for the ministry of the Church was sold in order to contribute to the settlement fund). The pastors of the parishes of the Diocese, as a group, agreed that the parishes would contribute $500,000, according to individual parish resources. These funds do not come from the pockets of parishioners, but rather from resources already on hand. This contribution will afford each parish the benefit of the protection and orders of the final Chapter 11 plan. That is, any of the future claims will be addressed to the Diocese as a whole, and not to an individual parish.
How will the Diocese of Gallup function after Chapter 11 is over?
Pretty much the same as it does now – we will continue to proclaim the Gospel message. There will be an additional $2.3 million debt, that we must pay like any other debt, and with the substantial relief of having addressed the survivors’ claims.