Minn. archbishop: No plans for parish appeals to fund abuse settlement

St. Paul, Minn., Jun 28, 2018 / 01:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Archbishop Bernard Hebda of Saint Paul and Minneapolis said Wednesday there are no plans for additional parish appeals to fund a proposed $210 million settlement for victims of clergy sexual abuse.

In a June 27 radio interview with MPR News, Hedba told host Kerri Miller that most of the settlement money – $170 million – would come from the archdiocese’s insurance and from money already collected from parish appeals.

Parishes will likely not be responsible for the remainder of the money, he said, though some have voluntarily given donations.

“It’s not like we’re going to be making an additional appeal – at least at this point, that’s not part of the plan,” he told MPR News. “Certainly, we’ve already been hearing from people that desire to be part of this, who recognize the responsibility of the church at large for the situation.”

After more than two years’ deliberation, the $210 million settlement was announced by the archdiocese in May, and includes a plan for abuse compensation as well as for bringing the archdiocese out of bankruptcy. The amount is an increase of more than $50 million from the proposal that the archdiocese had originally submitted.

In January 2015, the archdiocese had filed for bankruptcy, saying many abuse claims had been made possible under Minnesota legislation that opened a temporary window for older claims to be heard in civil court.

The initial plan proposed by the archdiocese included $156 million for survivors who filed claims. That plan would have drawn about $120 million in insurance settlements and $30 million from the archdiocese and some of its parishes. Victims’ attorneys said it was inadequate and did not include insurers and parishes sufficiently.

In January 2018, a federal bankruptcy judge ordered a return to mediation for all the parties involved.

Under the final plan, the majority of the money – about $170 million – comes from insurance carriers for the archdiocese and individual parishes. The other $40 million will come from diocesan and parish sources, such as cash-on-hand and the sale of interests in land.

Hebda told MPR News that while some Catholics are angry about the settlement, there are many “wonderful Catholic lay people” who are supportive of the archdiocese and are committed to helping the Church do better in the future when it comes to sexual abuse.

He also noted that the archdiocese has improved the way in which it addresses allegations, including the establishment of a review board that includes members who have survived past clergy abuse.

“Any time that there’s any allegation that would come into the archdiocese, not only do we involve law enforcement, but we would also involve that review board,” he told MPR. “The opportunities for anything other than transparency are minimal.”

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