Archdiocese attorney Carmen Conde told The Associated Press that the filing was a last recourse. She said roughly 75 fulltime and part-time employees are affected, along with dozens of parishes across the U.S. territory. She said the Archdiocese cannot pay its water or power bills, has halted all charity work and is relying on a group of volunteers.
A judge earlier this year ordered the Archdiocese to pay $4.7 million worth of pensions to both active and retired teachers working at dozens of its schools. The ruling comes two years after Archdiocese officials informed several hundred teachers that their pensions would be eliminated because payouts exceeded contributions, which led to the lawsuit. Enrollment at Catholic schools in Puerto Rico has plunged with hundreds of thousands of families leaving the island for the U.S. mainland amid a 12-year recession.
Conde said it’s the first time the Archdiocese has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. She said officials embargoed 21 Archdiocese accounts that hold a total of $606,000 and froze another 12 accounts that have nearly $341,500 in them. In addition, officials also froze 160 accounts belonging to dozens parishes that hold a total of $3.8 million.