MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – For 49 months, the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office has overseen the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Every six months, they met in court to review the progress in addressing a history of sexual abuse by local priests. Tuesday marked the final meeting between the Attorney’s Office and the archdiocese.

At a press conference Tuesday, Archbishop Bernard Hebda said he was grateful to the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office for playing a role in “cultural change.” Working to prevent sexual abuse in the church would never stop, he said.

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“This is not a time to relax,” Archbishop Hebda said. “Quite the opposite: hard persistent work.”

In a 27-page cultural assessment report released by the attorney’s office, agreed-upon recommendations are made to the church, including regular external audits and periodic performance reviews of priests.

Joy Hoffman, whose sons were victims of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest, applauded her children for fighting for justice.

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“I think it has brought us a sense of healing, a sense of hope,” she said.

Ramsey County Attorney John Choi also thanked Patty Wetterling, who was in attendance Tuesday, for her involvement in the review process and a long career protecting children.

The abuse scandal grabbed headlines in 2013 when a church whistleblower quit her job and went to the police. Two years later, the archdiocese filed for bankruptcy. The state then criminally charged the church and Archbishop Jon Nienstedt resigned.

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In 2018, criminal charges were dropped after the church admitted wrongdoing. As part of a bankruptcy reorganization, a $210 million settlement was announced for the nearly 450 victims.

Kate Raddatz