Church says it is fairest way to ensure limited funds are distributed
The Roman Catholic Archbishop of St Paul and Minneapolis announced he was filing bankruptcy for his diocese because it cannot manage to settle more than 125 lawsuits from people who say they were victims of sexual abuse by priests.
In a statement, Archbishop John Nienstedt said the church was filing for so-called Chapter 11 bankruptcy as it would allow its limited resources to be most effectively distributed. However, some victims of abuse have said they believe the church is shirking its responsibility
“I make this decision because I believe it is the fairest and most helpful recourse for those victims/survivors who have made claims against us” said Mr Nienstedt. “Reorganisation will allow the finite resources of the Archdiocese to be distributed equitably among all victims/ survivors.”
Officials at the archdiocese said the move had been made necessary after the filing of 25 lawsuits who say they were victims of sexual abuse. An additional 100 lawsuits were pending, part of international wave of claims that have rocked the church in recent years.
People hold quilts at a press conference outside Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels for victims of sexual abuse by priests in Los Angeles
It is the 12th bankruptcy filed by US archdioceses and dioceses since the Archdiocese of Portland filed in 2004, according to theStar Tribune. Portland settled for $90m (£59.6m) for 171 survivors and their attorneys. The Diocese of Wilmington Delaware paid $77m for 150 survivors and their lawyers.
Church bankruptcy proceedings have lasted anywhere from one to more than four years, depending on the degree of contention among the parties, say reports.
The announcement came as the church prepared for three trials in which plaintiffs are alleging they were abused by priests belonging to the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis.
“Why is it that when all the dioceses file bankruptcy, they do it on the eve of a trial,” Bob Schwiderski, a long-time advocate for abuse survivors, told the newspaper. “Is it because they can’t put their hand on the bible and swear to tell the truth?”