(KMSP) - When Twin cities Catholics go to church this weekend they will get more than just their weekly mass, they will also get a reminder of an upcoming deadline in the ongoing church abuse scandal.
Sources tell Fox 9 the new Archbishop Bernard Hebda has ordered parish priests to help parishioners remember the May 25 deadline for the Minnesota Child Victim's Act, which lifts the statute of limitations for people who say they were sexually abused, to prepare them in case their parish is sued.
"We anticipate that some parishes will have lawsuits commenced against them and we have been working to make sure communications are clear and accurate and anticipate that parish leaders will address the possible legal action this weekend,” the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis said in a statement.
Attorney Mike Finnegan of Jeff Anderson and Associates says his firm is preparing to serve papers to about 100 parishes representing 350 victims who have already filed lawsuits against the archdiocese, in case the archbishop tries to deflect legal liability to the parishes where the alleged abuses occurred.
"What's happened in the past is the archbishop and some of the other archdioceses have pointed their finger at the parish and say the parish is responsible, so what we need to do for the survivors is make sure their rights are protected,” Finnegan said.
Finnegan says in other states where there are similar laws church leaders have settled with survivors so they did not have to go through with actually suing the parishes, but they want a contingency plan in place just in case.
"If Archbishop Hebda steps up and does the right thing and reaches the resolution with the survivors then we'll never get to that point."
Finnegan says he also expects another wave of claims before the May 25 deadline because some alleged victims have been wrestling with whether to come forward.
Full statement from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis
The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis continues to work with parishes and their attorneys to prepare for possible legal action as a result of the end of the MN Child Victims Act on May 25th of this year. We anticipate that some parishes will have lawsuits commenced against them and we have been working to make sure communications are clear and accurate, and anticipate that parish leaders will address the possible legal action this weekend. One of the goals in our Reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court is to have all legal action against parishes resolved fairly and justly.