The Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis says his archdiocese has followed the law in its bankruptcy process, responding to claims by abuse victims that some assets were not made public.
“The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis has been fully cooperating with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court since filing in January of 2015,” Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda of St. Paul and Minneapolis stated on Tuesday.
“Let me be clear: The Archdiocese has disclosed all of its assets and has followed all the rules set forth by the Court and all directives from the judge,” he continued.
An “unsecured creditors committee” and attorney Jeff Anderson, who represents hundreds of alleged Minnesota abuse victims, filed a motion on Monday claiming the archdiocese actually should have reported $1.7 billion in assets rather than the $49 million it reported in bankruptcy filings, according to the Associated Press.
They accused the archdiocese of hiding assets to protect them from payouts to abuse victims. The assets that should have been consolidated and included in the process included parishes, schools, cemeteries, and charitable organizations that consolidated together would have been worth $1.4 billion, they said. In addition, two other entities “controlled by the Archbishop” would be worth over $300 million.
All those entities should have been included in the reported assets of the archdiocese under “substantive consolidation,” the committee claimed.
In January of 2015, the archdiocese had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as more accusations of past sexual abuse of minors by clergy in the archdiocese had surfaced.
Then-Archbishop John C. Nienstedt had announced that “reorganization will allow the finite resources of the Archdiocese to be distributed equitably among all victims/ survivors.”
The archdiocese has worked to help ensure this distribution, Archbishop Hebda continued in his Monday statement. “I know that for at least the last 11 months we have been working extremely hard to marshal and maximize our assets with the hope of providing the most for the most,” he stated.
He added that the archdiocese will move forward with the bankruptcy proceedings. “Please continue to pray for all of those who have been sexually abused and for their families and for a quick resolution to these proceedings,” he insisted.
Archbishop Hebda was appointed to his position by Pope Francis in March after serving as apostolic administrator for the archdiocese since July of 2015. Then-Archbishop Nienstadt had resigned after the archdiocese was charged on six counts of failure to protect minors.
Those charges stemmed from the cases of one former priest Curtis Wehmeyer who was sentenced to five years in prison after he pled guilty to sexually abusing two boys and possessing child pornography. The archdiocese “turned a blind eye” to the situation, the prosecutor stated at the time.
Attorney Jeff Anderson, who has made millions off of suing the Catholic Church in the United States, has also represented abuse victims in several other states like Wisconsin, California, Iowa, and Delaware. His 2013 settlement with the archdiocese resulted in them making public additional names of priests “with substantiated claims of child sexual abuse”; ultimately they released 68 names of priests “with substantiated claims of sexual abuse of minors,” his website claimed.