updated 10/10/2006 7:16:20 PM ET 2006-10-10T23:16:20

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Davenport filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Tuesday, the fourth diocese across the country to seek financial protection to deal with priest sex abuse cases.

The filing comes less than two weeks before the Iowa diocese defends itself at a trial involving a former priest accused of sexually abusing a high school student.

Bishop William Franklin said the diocese was left with no other alternative to settle more than two dozen claims against priests accused of sexual abuse. He said the move would ensure the financial health of the church.

"Today, the Diocese of Davenport is standing in the moment of a historic event," Franklin wrote in a letter to members posted on the diocese Web site. "While providing just and fair compensation to victims/survivors, we also believe that the decision to reorganize is the best way in which we will be able to continue the Church's mission."

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