Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Digging Out of "Deep Kimchi"?

Last week, the judge overseeing the bankruptcy filing of the diocese of San Diego issued a preliminary ruling to release 42 of the SoCal see's 127 abuse claims to civil trial in state court.

While local reports at the weekend noted that the diocese and plaintiffs' attorneys had made significant strides in settlement negotiations over recent weeks, word from the ground tonight says that an "emergency meeting" of the consultors and deans has been called for later this morning, local time.

To date, the diocese -- home to almost a million Catholics -- has publicly maintained a settlement offer of $95 million, an amount the court found insufficient on grounds that its per-victim average payout was significantly lower than those of similar deals made by California dioceses. Most notable among these, of course, is last month's $660 million settlement inked by the archdiocese of Los Angeles with 508 survivors.

Filed a day before its first civil trial was slated to begin in February, the San Diego bankruptcy has been marked by numerous difficulties and missteps on the part of the diocese, whose senior officials were summoned to testify at an April hearing amid inaccuracies in the church's financial disclosures to the court.

In related news, already the hardest hit US locale in terms of damages, a "second wave" of abuse claims in the Golden State is threatening to cause further fiscal tumult to its local churches, another of which is reportedly weighing a Chapter 11 filing of its own.

Bottom line: that glimmer at the end of the tunnel? Still a ways off.

Stay tuned.