At St. Mary's church in downtown Rochester, local Catholics gathered for daily mass Thursday amid the diocese filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
At a Thursday press conference, Diocese of Rochester Bishop Salvatore Matano said liabilities arising in connection with New York’s Child Victims Act led to the filing, after the act lifted the statute of limitations allowing victims of child sex abuse to pursue claims against the church.
Despite the filing, some parishioners are hopeful the diocese can recover.
"I've seen everything and we’ve moved to many churches and this isn't our regular church. But that doesn't mean that we ought to give up on the diocese," said Anthony Rosati of Rochester.
Diocese officials said the bankruptcy filing will not affect individual parishes under the diocese as churches are separately incorporated under New York state law.
Matano assured that parishes in the diocese will continue to operate normally.
"The Catholic Church has been through many, many bad things in the past, and I have faith that God will get us through the rest of this. Yes, we'll just keep everybody in our prayers, and we will get through this," said Patricia Rosati from Rochester.
Dr. Timothy Thibodeau, a history professor at Nazareth College, said although a faith community can survive, there are financial and moral implications to consider.
"I know a lot of faithful Catholics that are depressed by this,” Thibodeau said. “It hurts them personally because they've devoted their life to this faith tradition and I think there's already data indicating over the last three or four years that church participation continues to decline and contributions to the church are starting to decline."
Some parishioners said this latest setback will not shake, but strengthen their faith.