How will Archdiocese bankruptcy impact parishes?

MINNEAPOLIS – For months people have been predicting the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis would file for bankruptcy. Friday, that prediction became official.

"I'm not surprised. I think it was inevitable," said Charles Reid, a University of St. Thomas Law professor.

Reid, who is also an expert in Cannon law, was one those who predicted this day.

"They have huge outstanding obligations, they don't know the amounts," he said of the Archdiocese. "They don't know the dollar amounts, but they know the implications are very large."

Those obligations come from dozens of lawsuits and pending lawsuits over clergy sex abuse.

Church officials reassured parishes and schools they would not be impacted, saying parishes and the Archdiocese have been separate under a religious corporation statute since the 1800's.

"Parish life will go on as normal. You go to church and trust me the church doors will be open," said Reid. "They are not filing for bankruptcy. The Archdiocese is."

The Basilica of St. Mary sent a similar message in an email to its parishioners Friday.

"Because The Basilica is a separate corporation, as are all the parishes in our Archdiocese, this filing has no immediate or long-term impact on our parish," it read.

It is unclear how this will impact future financial settlements of clergy sex abuse cases, but Jeff Anderson who represents many victims in the Twin Cities believed bankruptcy was the best option.

It is also unclear how long this bankruptcy will take.

"Cooperation by the Archdiocese matters a great deal," said Reid.

Cooperation by both sides will speed things along. Reid says the best case scenario would be about a year, which happened in the Archdiocese of Helena bankruptcy.

"The worst case scenario is Milwaukee. It's been going on for 5 years now, and it's still not resolved," he said.

Anderson also represents victims in the Milwaukee area and called the situation in Wisconsin a travesty for victims who have sued the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.

"Everyone knows what has happened there has been a horror," he said.

He and others have accused the Archdiocese of Milwaukee of lying and moving money around to hide it from victims, something he believes will not happen in the Twin Cities.

"This Archdiocese will not do that," said Anderson. "I think the survivors need to hear that and I think the community of faith need to hear that, and I think the public needs to hear that because what happened in Milwaukee is a nightmare for all."


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