The Diocese of St Cloud, Minnesota will pay $22.5 million into a trust for sexual abuse survivors, under a plan that involves filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
The diocese announced Tuesday that it had reached an agreement with abuse survivors on a framework for settling all abuse claims filed against the diocese and local parishes.
“This framework for resolution represents the diocese’s commitment to finding a fair resolution for survivors of sexual abuse while continuing its ministry to those it serves throughout the 16-county diocese,” it said.
“I am particularly grateful to the survivors of abuse for their courage in coming forward and sharing their experiences, and I again apologize on behalf of the Church for the harm they suffered,” Bishop Donald Kettler of St. Cloud said in a statement.
He thanked the people of the diocese for their prayers and reiterated his commitment to aiding in the healing process for those who have been abused, including by meeting with any victims who wish to meet with him.
“Reaching an agreement on a framework for resolution prior to filing Chapter 11 bankruptcy significantly reduces administrative fees in the bankruptcy and preserves a larger estate to fund the trust for survivors,” he said.
The diocese said it will be filing for bankruptcy “in the near future.” Under the plan, money to compensate abuse victims will come from insurance settlements and cash and property contributions from the diocese and local parishes, it said.
The diocese stressed its dedication to accountability and healing from past abuse, as well as efforts to prevent abuse in the future. Safe environment training and background checks are required for clergy, parish, school, and diocesan employees. Allegations are reported to authorities swiftly, and clergy are carefully screened starting in their seminary years before they are permitted to serve in the diocese, the statement said.
As part of its commitment to transparency and accountability, the diocese said it has committed to releasing the names and files of all clergy members who have been credibly accused of abuse. That list currently contains 41 names, according to Minnesota Public Radio.
The Diocese of St. Cloud first announced its plan to declare bankruptcy in March 2018, faced with 74 civil claims alleging the sexual abuse of minors, some dating back to the 1950s. It said parishes, schools and ministries should not be affected by the filing.
St. Cloud was the fourth diocese in Minnesota to declare bankruptcy after the passage of the Minnesota Child Victims Act in 2013, which lifted the civil statute of limitations for child abuse allegations until May 2016, giving alleged victims three years in which to file claims for abuse alleged to have occurred decades ago.
During the three-year window provided for by the Minnesota Child Victims Act, more than six hundred claims were filed against Catholic dioceses in Minnesota leading to bankruptcy announcements from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Diocese of New Ulm, and Diocese of Duluth.
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