Diocese of Norwich
Office of the Bishop
Norwich, Connecticut 06360
MOST REVEREND MICHAEL R. COTE, D.D.
July 15, 2021
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
It is with a heavy heart, and out of deep concern for the Diocese and you the faithful, that I regrettably share with you the following information, which is probably the most important news that I have had to deliver in my 18 years as the shepherd of the Diocese of Norwich. On July 15th, the Diocese of Norwich filed a voluntary petition for bankruptcy and reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code. The decision to file for bankruptcy relief was difficult and only taken after two years of careful deliberation and prayer.
We believe that bankruptcy is the fairest and most equitable way for the Diocese to resolve the nearly 60 pending lawsuits related to alleged abuses at Mount Saint John School, a former ministry of the Diocese and residential school in Deep River to which students were sent, tuitions paid, and annual audits performed by the State of Connecticut. It will also help us manage litigation expenses and allow us to carry out our essential ministries. During the bankruptcy process, the practice of our Catholic faith, the administration of the Sacraments and the operation of parishes, schools, and cemeteries within the Diocese’s geographic boundaries, which are separate legal entities, will continue.
Ours is not the first Diocese to experience a reorganization. Our advisors tell me that more than 30 diocesan, archdiocesan, and religious institutions, both large and small have had to take this action in order to fairly compensate victims of abuse while also continuing to carry out the spiritual, charitable, and educational mission of the Church. As an impartial third party, the Bankruptcy Court will centralize financial claims against the Diocese then structure and oversee a transparent public settlement that ensures these claims are paid as fully and fairly as possible from our existing assets, including insurance policies, real estate and investments.
We are dedicated to working diligently with abuse survivors, creditors and ministries to maintain open communication in order to reach a comprehensive settlement through the bankruptcy process. As members of the faithful, all of us are called to find strength in the Word of God and the Sacraments and to live Christ’s spirit of humility, charity, compassion, sensitivity, and courage.
More detailed information about the bankruptcy proceedings can be found on the Diocese’s website www.NorwichDiocese.org
I am praying for all of you and your families and in particular for the survivors of sexual abuse. I also pray that these issues be resolved with dignity, fairness, and compassion for all those who have suffered, and that this process be a significant step towards healing.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Michael R Cote
Bishop of Norwich