St. Cloud Diocese declares bankruptcy

The Diocese of St. Cloud filed for bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court Monday, just weeks after reaching a $22.5 million settlement with clergy abuse survivors.

The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing provides a "framework for resolution" of the clergy abuse claims filed by 70 individuals against 42 priests dating to the 1950s, the diocese said.

The diocese announced its intent to file for bankruptcy in 2018 to pay for the claims, and has been negotiating with attorneys for the survivors since.

"This Chapter 11 reorganization represents the diocese's commitment to finding a fair resolution for survivors," said the diocese news release announcing the filing.

"It's been a long haul, a long process, for survivors," added survivors' attorney Mike Finnegan. "We're glad that they're on the path to resolution and putting the lawsuits behind them."

St. Cloud is the fifth diocese in Minnesota, and the 26th Catholic diocese or religious order in the nation, to file for bankruptcy. In all cases, it followed a wave of lawsuits charging priest sexual misconduct with minors.

The New Ulm Diocese, Duluth Diocese and Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis have emerged from bankruptcy, said Finnegan. Winona Diocese has not reached a resolution, he said.

The Crookston Diocese, with 15 abuse lawsuits, did not file for bankruptcy.

The $22.5 million survivor fund will be administered by an independent trustee appointed by the bankruptcy court, with input from the committee representing survivors' interest, the diocese said.

The funds "are made up of insurance and benefits coverage settlements, cash and property contributions from the diocese, and contributions from pari...

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