MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul has filed for bankruptcy amid lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by some of their clergy members.

Archbishop John Nienstedt said declaring bankruptcy is the “fairest” way to help the victims of sexual abuse.

He said it will also allow the archdiocese to continue the work it does for the more than 800,000 Catholics in the Twin Cities.

Since 2013, the archdiocese has been sued about two dozen times due to sex abuse claims.

“I made this decision because I feel it’s the fairest recourse for victims and survivors,” Nienstedt said. “This is not an attempt to silence victims in court. On the contrary, we want to respond positively and compensate them for their suffering.”

The move by the Archdiocese will likely not impact Catholic churches and schools, but at St. Olaf’s in Minneapolis Friday, long-time Catholics said it’s only one step in recovering from clergy sex abuse allegations.

“That’s not the center of our faith,” one parishioner said. “I think when people lose faith in their center, that’s when they leave the church.”

Others said filing for bankruptcy gives the archdiocese a chance to do the right thing.

“I empathize,” another churchgoer said. “Whatever has to be, they have good administrators, and I think they are doing the best they can.”

The archdiocese is the 12th U.S diocese to seek bankruptcy protection in the face of sex abuse claims.

As of Friday evening. they still had several papers to file with bankruptcy court before the move can be made official.

In Milwaukee, the bankruptcy protection filing has dragged out over the past four years as attorneys fight over who should get paid and how much. In Montana, the Helena Archdiocese sought protection only after working out a deal with victims beforehand. That deal was approved this week.


John Lauritsen

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