Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis files for bankruptcy

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has filed for bankruptcy, with Archbishop John Nienstedt saying it's the best course of action to ensure a fair distribution of resources to victims of alleged clergy sexual abuse.  The petition estimates the archdiocese has assets totaling $10 million to $50 million, with financial liabilities of $50 million to $100 million.

"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," Nienstedt said in a letter. "Reorganization will allow the finite resources of the Archdiocese to be distributed equitably among all victims/survivors."

View the bankruptcy petition at http://bit.ly/1KQH2De 

Attorney for victims: Bankruptcy not adversarial

St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson had been working with the archdiocese on a bankruptcy filing since last fall, and made a point to say this is not an adversarial move. Anderson said bankruptcy is a way to make sure all victims of abuse are dealt with equitably.

"We can fight if we have to, but we don't believe we have to," Anderson said. "We believe we can work together."

Archbishop Nienstedt said the decision to file for bankruptcy was made "thoughtfully, prayerfully and collaboratively" through consultations with financial and legal experts, law enforcement and advocates of child sexual abuse victims. The archbishop made a short statement Friday at the Monsignor Hayden Center in St. Paul.

"I do not intend to resign," Nienstedt said. "I requested this at the bequest of the holy father."

What it means

Pending lawsuits against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis will stop at the end of January 2015. 16 lawsuits and an additional 112 claims will all now go to bankruptcy reorganization.

The archdiocese is well-insured, filing a claim with its insurance companies in November.

Parishes and schools not included

A petition for Chapter 11 reorganization was filed Friday morning in federal bankruptcy court. The bankruptcy filing covers the Archdiocese Corporation and does not include individual parishes and schools.

'Not an attempt to silence victims'

"It must be pointed out that this action will not in any way avoid our responsibilities to those who have been affected by clerical sexual abuse," Nienstedt wrote. "This is not an attempt to silence victims or deny them justice in court. On the contrary, we want to respond positively in compensating them for their suffering. Plaintiffs' attorneys and I are in agreement that priority should be given to providing resources for the victims/survivors.

Read the archbishop's complete letter at http://www.archspm.org/archspm_news/letter-archbishop-john-nienstedt

SNAP response

Archbishop John Nienstedt is exploiting secular bankruptcy laws to protect himself and his top aides from embarrassment and inconvenience. This decision is not about money, it's about selfishness," said a statement from Barbara Dorris, outreach director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. "Nienstedt will say it's about helping to make sure everyone gets paid. But it's really about making sure he and his colleagues get off the hook, avoiding having to answer tough questions in open court about how they are concealing and have concealed heinous crimes against kids."

FAQ and resources

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has created a website with FAQs, legal and financial documents and other resources at http://information.archspm.org

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