Clergy abuse scandals could lead to financial woes

11:50 PM, Oct 25, 2013   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Some Catholic leaders and former officials are saying recent allegations of clergy misconduct could put financial pressure on the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

In the last several weeks, the archdiocese has been under fire amid allegations that church leaders mishandled or covered up cases of priest misconduct. Now some church leaders suggest that controversy could translate to an actual drop in collections from parishioners.

"People don't have any way of expressing their concerns except by pocketbook, I guess. That's one way people would choose to communicate that they're very unhappy," said Rev. Mike Tegeder of St. Frances Cabrini.

Tegeder shared his own frustrations with how he feels church leaders have failed to properly respond to cases of alleged priest abuse. He suggested that failure could end up putting further pressure on an already strained financial situation.

According to Tegeder, church officials told priests that 40 of the 188 Twin Cities parishes owe $21 million to the archdiocese. The pension plan for priests could also be insolvent in an early as 10 years, Tegeder said. And he mentioned that plans for a $160 million capital campaign have been delayed.

KARE 11's media partner, Minnesota Public Radio News, also reported that several former church officials have come forward, saying church leaders have frequently discussed the possibility of filing for bankruptcy.

But a spokesman for the archdiocese responded to KARE 11 on Friday, saying the archdiocese "remains in a stable financial position."

Jim Accurso, Media and Public Relations Manager, continued: "Bankruptcy is not under consideration. In fact, we've already exceeded our goal of $9.3 million for the 2013 Catholic Services Appeal, which includes recent gifts within the last month."

Accurso acknowledged that attorneys for the archdiocese did meet with the attorneys who represented the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in its bankruptcy proceedings, but he said the meeting included all diocesan attorneys in the state of Minnesota.

As for the capital campaign, Accurso said it would be led by a "coalition of Catholic leaders and organizations" not the archdiocese, adding that "there have been no final decisions about moving forward yet."

(Copyright 2013 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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