A US archdiocese said Friday it is filing for bankruptcy to compensate victims of sexual abuse, the 12th Roman Catholic district to do so in a years-long scandal that has rocked the Church.
The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is filing for bankruptcy for the “reorganization of the archdiocese corporation,” Archbishop John Nienstedt said in a letter posted on its website.
“I believe it is the fairest and most helpful recourse for those victims/survivors who have made claims against us,” he wrote.
“Reorganization will allow the finite resources of the archdiocese to be distributed equitably among all victims/ survivors.”
He insisted that the diocese’s mission would not be affected and that it will continue to provide “essential services” to the community.
It is the 12th diocese in the United States to declare bankruptcy in the past decade in order to free assets to repay victims of sexual abuse.
Nienstedt said the church assumes full responsibility for any abuses committed and that it supported victims.
“This action will not in any way avoid our responsibilities to those who have been affected by clerical sexual abuse,” he said.
“This is not an attempt to silence victims or deny them justice in court. On the contrary, we want to respond positively in compensating them for their suffering.”
The letter did not say how much money each victim could receive.
The archbishop said there are currently 21 cases of sexual abuse pending before the court, and there could be as many as 100 more complaints not yet filed.
The US Catholic Church has spent millions on lawyers, damages and therapy bills since the abuse scandal emerged in the early 2000s, according to a report from Stonebridge Business Partners, which provides an annual audit for the Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The audit has been undertaken every year since the Church was rocked by paedophilia claims in 2002, when the man then serving as Boston’s archbishop admitted to sheltering a priest accused in multiple abuse cases.