U.S. Bankruptcy Court Approves $121 Million Clergy Abuse Settlement

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A bankruptcy judge approved $121 million on Thursday. Reorganization plan One of the oldest Roman Catholic dioceses in the United States, trying to stem the economic loss from clerical abuse decades back.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico, said U.S. bankruptcy judge David T. Tuma confirmed the agreement at a public hearing, praising the parties for going through the difficult process.

In a statement, Archbishop John C. Wester thanked the Abuse Survivor Panel for representing fellow survivors in their claims against the Archdiocese. As he continued, he described it as a challenging task.

“While we hope and pray that the bankruptcy outcome will bring justice and relief to victims of clerical sexual abuse, we recognize that nothing will compensate for the criminal and horrific abuse they have endured. doing.

He also pledged that the archdiocese would respond quickly to allegations and remain vigilant to support its zero-tolerance policy by working with local authorities.

global priest abuse scandal It bankrupted parishes around the world and caused an estimated $3 billion in damages to the Roman Catholic Church.

Aside from paying about 400 plaintiffs, the terms of the settlement in New Mexico establish a public archive of documents showing how abuse occurred in the state over decades. need to do it.

After nearly four years of legal wrangling, the restructuring plan has effectively stayed over 30 civil lawsuits in state court alleging child abuse by clergymen and negligence by church hierarchies. Court records show charges from the 1940s to the 2010s.

The plan calls for the archdiocese, supported by donations from the diocese, to provide $75 million towards the Albuquerque Journal, a total reconciliation fund. reportThe insurer agreed to pay $46.5 million.

Under the side agreement, five religious orders facing pending lawsuits will pay an additional $8.4 million, to be shared by certain claimants. The decree included Para, who was accused of running a now-defunct treatment center for troubled priests and providing the archdiocese with priests and other clergy who preyed on children and teens. Includes cleats servants.

Archdiocese attorney Thomas Walker said of the 376 survivor plaintiffs who voted for the plan, four voted denial and three indicated no approval or denial. At least two-thirds of the respondents were required to approve the plan.

Albuquerque attorney Brad Hall told the heartbreaking story of how his team dealt with more than 250 clergy abuse survivors in the decade leading up to their December 2018 bankruptcy filing. He said he had spoken to other people’s families.

“When it comes to actual survivors, some small compensation may feel inadequate for some, but I hope it helps create a sense of closure and accountability.

The Archdiocese sold numerous properties to come up with final negotiated contributions, including the home of the Archbishop of Albuquerque. The Archdiocese also took a mortgage on the Basilica of St. Francis of Assisi in Santa Fe.

Terence McKiernan, president of the nonprofit BishopAccountability.org, told the WSJ that other parishes with similar bankruptcy proceedings had more survivor claimants and less payouts. He described the settlement amount in the mid-1990s as “grossly unfair.”

An important part of the reconciliation plan, McKiernan said, is the creation of documents with the archdiocese’s redaction to help the public understand how the clergy sexual abuse crisis has developed in New Mexico. Said it was a disclosure.

The archdiocese says the disclosure of the documents to the University of New Mexico’s special library archives will be unprecedented.

“It’s very important to have such a large amount of documentation available to anyone who wants to read it. It’s pretty amazing,” McKiernan said.