The Diocese of St. Cloud has announced that it will declare bankruptcy as it faces 74 civil claims alleging the sexual abuse of minors.
St. Cloud is the fourth diocese in Minnesota to declare bankruptcy after the passage of the Minnesota Child Victims Act in 2013, which lifted the civil statute of limitations for child abuse allegations until May 2016, giving alleged victims three years in which to file claims for abuse alleged to have occurred decades ago.
“I am committed to openness and transparency about how we are working to resolve these lawsuits. We will keep pastors and parishes informed about the process as it moves forward. I ask you to please continue to pray for healing for all victims and survivors of clergy sexual abuse,” Bishop Donald Kettler said in a statement issued by the diocese on Feb. 28.
During the three-year window provided for by the Minnesota Child Victims Act, more than six hundred claims were filed against Catholic dioceses in Minnesota leading to bankruptcy announcements from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Diocese of New Ulm, and Diocese of Duluth.
Kettler announced that the St. Cloud Diocese plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, although no date has been set for this filing.
“This approach is the best way to ensure that available resources will be distributed equitably to all the victims and survivors, while allowing the diocese to continue its vital ministries that benefit the people of our 16 counties,” said Kettler, who met with the 31 clergy members named in the lawsuits prior to the announcement.
According to the Diocese of St. Cloud, the reorganization is not likely to impact the normal operations of its 131 parishes and 29 schools. 60 active priests serve more than 133,000 Catholics in the diocese.
Minnesota is one of four states to pass a temporary window allowing lawsuits for abuse claims exceeding the ordinary statute of limitations.