Abuse survivors, Twin Cities archdiocese reach settlement in bankruptcy case

Cathedral of St Paul Credit Sam Wagner Shutterstock CNA The Cathedral of Saint Paul in Saint Paul, Minnesota. | Sam Wagner/Shutterstock.

After more than two years' deliberation, the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis and abuse survivors have agreed to a plan for abuse compensation as well as for bringing the archdiocese out of bankruptcy.

A statement released on Thursday by Jeff Anderson & Associates law firm, which represents the abuse survivors, called the settlement the "largest settlement ever reached in a Catholic bankruptcy case", though they did not at the time disclose a dollar amount.

A source close to the archdiocese told CNA May 31 that the settlement amount reached was $210 million.

In the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, adopted by the U.S. Bishop's Conference in 2002, the bishops committed to full transparency on abuse settlement amounts. The charter notes that dioceses "are not to enter into settlements which bind the parties to confidentiality unless the victim/survivor requests confidentiality and this request is noted in the text of the agreement."

Sources close to the archdiocese told CNA that between 33 and 40 percent of the settlement amount is likely to be consumed by plaintiffs' attorney fees.

Anderson and abuse victims are holding a press conference, and the archdiocese is expected to do so shortly.

In January 2015 the archdiocese filed for bankruptcy, saying many abuse claims had been made possible under Minnesota legislation that opened a temporary window for older claims to be heard in civil court.

The committee representing abuse survivors composed a plan at the time calling for tougher settlements with insurance companies and much larger contributions from the archdiocese. The archdiocese, parishes and insurance companies objected to the plan, saying its effect would be "liquidating" the archdiocese.

From the archdiocese came a proposed plan that included $156 million for survivors who filed claims. The plan would draw about $120 million in insurance settlements and $30 million from the archdiocese and some of its parishes. Victims' attorneys said it was inadequate and did not include insurers and parishes adequately.

In January 2018, a federal bankruptcy judge ordered a return to mediation for all the parties involved.

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