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St. Paul Archbishop: Bankruptcy will help clergy sex abuse victims

By Amy R. Connolly
St. Paul Archbishop: Bankruptcy will help clergy sex abuse victims
Archbishop John Nienstedt of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis announced plans to file chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. Photo courtesy Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis

ST. PAUL, Minn., Jan. 17 (UPI) -- The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, saying the move will help the local victims of clergy sex abuse.

Archbishop John Nienstedt said the bankruptcy "will allow the finite resources of the archdiocese to be distributed equitably among all victims/ survivors."

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"It must be pointed out that this action will not in any way avoid our responsibilities to those who have been affected by clerical sexual abuse." Nienstedt said in a written statement. "This is not an attempt to silence victims or deny them justice in court. On the contrary, we want to respond positively in compensating them for their suffering."

The St. Paul-Minnesota archdiocese is the 12th in the nation to file bankruptcy under the crushing load of clergy sex-abuse lawsuits. The bankruptcy protects the St. Paul and Minneapolis archdiocese from creditors while freezing the 20 lawsuits against the church. Another 100 lawsuits are pending.

A local attorney representing victims in a trial that was expected to start on Jan. 26 said the bankruptcy is a way for the archdiocese to avoid negative publicity.

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"Bankruptcies do not protect kids," attorney Patrick Noaker told the Star Tribune. "Trials and disclosures help protect kids. The Archdiocese's bankruptcy filing just one week before officials would have to testify in a public court with television cameras is not the conduct of an organization committed to transparency and protecting kids."

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