The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston is reportedly preparing to file for bankruptcy rather than face a costly legal battle that could last years.
Scores of alleged victims of a paedophile priest in the Boston area have sued the archdiocese for damages amounting to millions of dollars.
Senior advisers to Cardinal Bernard Law favour filing for bankruptcy, and any decision must be approved by the cardinal, according to The Boston Sunday Globe, citing unnamed sources close to the archdiocese.
Calling the report speculative and premature, spokeswoman Donna Morrissey said. "Our first desire is to settle in a fair and expeditious manner."
The lawyer for 86 alleged victims of defrocked priest John Geoghan said in September they had tentatively agreed to a £6.5 million deal with the archdiocese.
Geoghan is currently serving a six year prison sentence for molesting a 10-year-old boy.
Alleged victims' lawyers will start making public the personnel files of 65 priests this week.
Robert Sherman, a lawyer at Greenberg Traurig, which represents about half the alleged victims, told the newspaper: "Cardinal Law has made a commitment to resolving these claims so the victims can obtain closure.
"For the church to file for bankruptcy would be inconsistent with his posture and would keep those wounds open," he added.