Court Approves U.S. Catholic Church’s Proposed Second Largest Payout To Sex Abuse Victims

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Joshua Gill Religion Reporter
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The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, which filed for bankruptcy in 2015 amid a flood of sexual abuse allegations, will pay $210 million to abuse victims.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Kressel approved the archdiocese’s proposed settlement Wednesday as part of its reorganization plan. The archdiocese faced an overwhelming financial burden in 2015 after the Minnesota Child Victims Act lifted the statute of limitations on sexual abuse for three years, which would have allowed many victims whose cases went previously unreported to sue the archdiocese. The archdiocese filed for Chapter XI bankruptcy in light of that impending burden, and offered to pay the lump settlement as remuneration to abuse victims. (RELATED: Ohio Diocese To Publicly Name Up To 20 Reported Predatory Priests)

The settlement is the U.S. Catholic church’s second largest payout to victims of sexual abuse.

“I need to say once again that I am truly sorry,” Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda said during the hearing, according to Crux Now. “I know those words — as well as my promise of prayers — may ring hollow for many and will never be enough. Still, I am so sorry for the horrific things done to you by people you should have been able to trust.”

“As a bishop, as a priest, as a Catholic and as a human being, my heart aches when I think about the resulting harm to you, your families and so many others,” he added.

Hebda also lauded the victims who attended the hearing, saying their “persistence and courage have made a huge difference.” He also thanked them “for helping our church change for the better.”

Insurance providers contributed $170 million of the settlement, $20 million of which came from parish insurers, while the archdiocese sold property and used board-designated funds, a pending estate settlement and reserves from its insurance and benefits funds to pay $35 million. Certain parishes and priests also provided almost $3 million in voluntary pledges.

The reorganization plan also stipulates the archdiocese will pay an annual $1 million for five years to a trust that will distribute funds to abuse victims.

The plan will ultimately end all lawsuits arising from the 442 claims of alleged abuse victims the settlement covers, and is a revision of a previously submitted plan that Kressel rejected in 2017.

The archdiocese is predicted to be discharged from bankruptcy in December.

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