ST. PAUL, Minn. – As Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt finished a day of answering questions under oath about priest abuse Wednesday, the speculation over whether the archdiocese he leads will file for bankruptcy continued.
"I expect them to file bankruptcy," said Barbara May, a Twin Cities bankruptcy attorney.
May is surprised the church has not filed already and expects officials will soon.
According to BishopAccountability.org, there have been 11 U.S. Catholic dioceses to file bankruptcy in the last 10 years.
"Every time they file for bankruptcy they save a fortune," she said of dioceses. "It's good business for them."
The closest to Minnesota to file was the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in 2011, who reportedly offered around $6,000 dollars per victim two months ago. That's a fraction of what church officials likely would have had to pay outside of bankruptcy court.
"If you can file bankruptcy and pay everyone six thousand or defend it outside of bankruptcy and pay them a half a million, do the math," she said.
She suspects the archdiocese has not filed yet because attorneys are still going through the pre-filing process.
A spokesperson for the archdiocese would not answer specific questions about bankruptcy, only saying "all options are on the table at this time."
Catholic expert and University of St. Thomas law professor Charles Reid believes the case for the archdiocese to file for bankruptcy is growing stronger.
He believes there are two reasons why the diocese has yet to file. One is pride, he said.
"The other issue, there is the independence of the church. Even though bankruptcy court maybe deferential to the church, you are sacrificing measure of independence over your financial records," he said.
But considering Twin Cities church officials report paying nearly $9 million over priest misconduct in the past decade, it may be their only option.
"I think they have to do it," said May.