HELENA, Mont. -

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena is asking a bankruptcy judge to approve a key piece of a proposed settlement with hundreds of people who say they were sexually abused by clergy.

The diocese filed for bankruptcy protection in January as part of an agreement with 362 people abused as children from the 1940s to the 1970s. The diocese's insurers filed separate lawsuits over which claims they are obligated to cover.

The diocese is asking U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Terry Myers to approve a deal that would allow the insurers to buy back their policies for $10.9 million and protect them from future claims.

That money would fund the bulk of the settlement with the abuse victims.

A hearing has been set for Oct. 22 at the federal courthouse in Butte.