The Catholic Diocese of San Diego has said in a letter to parishioners that it is considering declaring for bankruptcy.

The diocese is the subject of more than 140 lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by priests.

The statement, signed by Bishop Robert Brom, said 'the diocese might be forced to file a Chapter 11 reorganisation in bankruptcy court' if what he described as fair settlements could not be reached with abuse victims.

The diocese said it was concerned that settlements did not cripple the ability of the Church to accomplish its mission and ministries.