The Catholic Diocese of Oakland has filed for bankruptcy protection in an attempt to stabilize its finances, following more than 330 sexual abuse lawsuits filed against it.

In a letter to the parish community Monday, Bishop Michael Barber said the Diocese filed for bankruptcy to support "a compassionate and equitable outcome for survivors of abuse."

The Diocese noted "a great majority" of over 330 claims revolve around sexual abuse crimes that took place between 1960-1980 by priests, who no longer work in the ministry or are deceased.

"Since then, the diocese has put in place robust safeguards to protect children and vulnerable adults including background checks and training about the nature of child sexual abuse, how it is perpetrated, how to report it and strategies for prevention," the letter stated.

The sexual abuse lawsuits came after the statute of limitations was suspended by California for sexual abuse between January 2020 and December 2022. It opened a three-year window for abuse victims to file civil actions against their alleged abusers until age 40 or five years from the time of the incident.

Responding to the development, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said the diocese is filing for bankruptcy in an "attempt to deny justice and transparency" and to hold onto "money and secrets."

"The Diocese of Oakland is surely morally bankrupt, it seems to us, but they do not deserve to be declared financially bankrupt," SNAP said in a statement.

According to the network, the Diocese owns a cathedral worth $200 million along with hundreds of acres of land.

"Except for character and integrity, it is not poor," SNAP officials added.

The Diocese of Oakland, which serves about 550,000 Catholics in 82 parishes, said it will work with their pastors and congregations over the next few months to "determine how best to address the outcome of the bankruptcy process."

The church further affirmed the bankruptcy process would be transparent to "allows all claimants equal access and an equitable share in the assets available to pay claims," claiming it has "limited cash reserves."

The Diocese of Oakland filed for Chapter 11 in the Northern District of California, where the Diocese of Santa Rosa previously filed in March.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Santa Rosa filed for bankruptcy protection, citing settlement for over 150 child sexual abuse lawsuits. Before filing for bankruptcy, the Diocese had already paid about $35 million in settlements.

Earlier, the Diocese in Camden in New Jersey filed for bankruptcy in October 2020. In April 2022, the Catholic Diocese of Camden and 300 victims of alleged child sexual abuse announced an $87.5 million settlement.

A former Catholic Church secretary accused a parish priest of groping her and trying to kiss her and firing her when she complained about it to the Brooklyn Diocese. In this photo, a priest makes preparations before a wedding at the St Nedelya Eastern Orthodox church in Sofia, Bulgaria, Dec. 7, 2013. Getty Images/ Sean Gallup