The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced Thursday that it will pay a $210 million settlement to 450 victims of clergy sexual abuse.
The announced settlement comes as part of the archdiocese’ bankruptcy reorganization and is the second largest payout that the Catholic Church in the U.S. has made to sexual abuse victims, according to The Associated Press. The settlement is also the largest payout made by any U.S. archdiocese or diocese that has filed for bankruptcy. The victims and Archbishop Bernard Hebda both praised the decision. (RELATED: Pope Francis Promises ‘Never Again’ Will Chilean Catholics Suffer Abuse And Cover-Ups)
“We changed the playing field,” said Jim Keenan, who was sexually abused by a priest in the 1980s, according to AP. “They have to listen to victims now, and that is huge.”
Hebda thanked the victims for their courage in coming forward.
“I recognize that the abuse stole so much from you, your childhood, your innocence, your safety, your ability to trust, and in many cases, your faith,” Hebda said, according to AP.
Hebda also stated that he hoped the settlement, and the swift execution thereof, would help them find peace.
“We’ve been working with them very carefully to try to formulate this in a way that benefits them to the maximum,” Hebda said, according to AP.
The total settlement, $210,290,724, will be gathered in a lump sum with the amount payed out to each victim to be determined later. Victims’ attorney Jeff Anderson said that the church’s reorganization plan will also be delivered to a bankruptcy judge. Upon the judge’s approval, the plan will then be put to a vote by the victims. Anderson told AP he is confident that the victims will approve of the plan.
Thomas Abood, chairman of the Archdiocesan Finance Council and Reorganization Task Force, told AP that insurance carriers will provide the funding for a majority of the settlement, roughly $170 million. The Archdiocese, parishes, real estate sales, and a pension will provide the remainder.
The settlement is $50 million more than the initial settlement offered by the archdiocese — a result of negotiations between the archdiocese and the victims.
“It allows survivors to feel like justice was served and … having a voice was really important to accepting the outcome,” Pamela Foohey, associate professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, told AP.
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