The financial cost

Note: This article is from the Globe’s original online special section on the Spotlight investigation into clergy sex abuse.

By the end of 2002, the Archdiocese of Boston faced some 500 claims by alleged victims of clergy abuse. Experts estimated civil lawsuits could cost the church more than $100 million. The church has already paid out about $40 million to victims, including a $10 million settlement struck with 86 victims of former priest John Geoghan.

The sizable settlements, combined with steeply declining donations, have left the archdiocese teetering on the brink of financial collapse, with officials acknowledging the church is now borrowing to meet its day-to-day operating costs. In December, the church’s finance council authorized Cardinal Law to seek Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection if necessary.

In an effort to control costs, the archdiocese has slashed social service programs, mortgaged its Brighton headquarters, and is planning to sell some of its extensive real estate holdings.