HAGATNA, Guam — Guam’s Catholic Church will file for bankruptcy – a move that will allow the archdiocese to avoid trial in dozens of lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse by priests and move toward settlements.

Archbishop Michael Byrnes announced Wednesday that mediation efforts that began in September led the church to bankruptcy.

“This path will bring the greatest measure of justice to the greatest number of victims,” Byrnes said.

Byrnes said the bankruptcy will provide “finality for victim survivors that they’ve been heard and understood.”

Attorney Leander James, who is working with alleged victims, said the move will help resolve current lawsuits from more than 180 claims of abuse through settlements.

Earlier this year the Vatican removed the suspended Guam archbishop from office and ordered him not to return after convicting him of some charges in a Vatican sex abuse trial.

The Vatican didn’t say what Archbishop Anthony Apuron had been convicted of, and the sentence was far lighter than those given high-profile prelates found guilty of molesting minors.

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