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Archdiocese files for bankruptcy

MinnPost photo by Rita Kovtun
St. Paul's Cathedral

You may have already read the Archbishop’s letter on sex abuse and his filing for bankruptcy. But here’s a chunk, from the Strib, “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. 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. Plaintiffs’ attorneys and I are in agreement that priority should be given to providing resources for the victims/survivors.”

For the Strib, Jean Hopfensperger writes, “The move freezes lawsuits against the church, protecting the archdiocese from creditors while allowing it to develop a reorganization plan. … All cases and claims will be reorganized in bankruptcy court, [plaintiffs attorney Jeff] Anderson said. ‘The good news is that the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has insurance and it has a lot of it,’ he said. ‘We and the archdiocese in the last weeks and months have tried to bring the insurance companies to the table,’ Anderson said. However, he said that has not succeeded. In November, it sued 20 insurance companies in federal court seeking to force them ‘to cover the type of injuries’ suffered by the clergy abuse claimants. Anderson said he thinks the archdiocese will prevail in the end.” Wouldn’t you like to know what the premiums are on those policies?

At MPR, Martin Moylan and Madeleine Baran write, “The Chapter 11 filing immediately buys the archdiocese time to reorganize its troubled finances as it faces huge potential costs tied to clergy abuse. Instead of handling claims through civil suits, alleged victims will likely need to file claims in federal court as creditors of the archdiocese. … David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests, said he believes the archdiocese filed for bankruptcy to avoid information coming out at trials. ‘It’s not about being fair to victims’, said Clohessy. ‘The goal from day one has been to keep the secrets secret and that remains the goal now’.”

For the PiPress Elizabeth Mohr says, “Total operating revenue for the year ending June 30, 2014, was $25.5 million, compared with $32.7 million in 2013. That decrease was largely due to a $7.7 million drop when the Catholic Services Appeal was shifted into a separate nonprofit organization at the start of 2014. The move assured donors that their contributions would go directly to specified ministries, instead of flowing through the chancery.”

Adios downtown department stores. Or so says Tatiana Craine in City Pages. “In January of 2013, Neiman Marcus closed its doors in Gaviidae Common, still brimming with discounted designer merchandise. Now, exactly two years later, Saks Off Fifth is following suit and shuttering its golden doors for good. … Even with an extra 80 percent off of the red-sticker sale prices at Saks right now, your best bet for say, a Moschino dress will still run you about $250 — and that’s for a dress from Spring 2011 that’s been through the ringer in the dressing rooms, collecting dirt and dust. (I’ve had my eye on this one for more than a year, okay?) A Helmut Lang leather jacket ends up coming out to $160, and a pair of Rag & Bone leather pants will set you back about $80. By industry standards, all those prices are an absolute steal, but you’ve got to be willing to sift through racks and racks of sometimes store-worn clothing with rips or foundation stains after a long time on the sales floor.” 

At least one Minnesota tribe is considering growing pot. At MPR. Jon Collins says, “The Red Lake Band of Chippewa in northern Minnesota is exploring whether to grow and sell marijuana following a recent U.S. Department of Justice memo allowing the practice on reservations even in states where marijuana is illegal. The U.S. Department of Justice in December ruled that American Indian tribes can legalize marijuana on reservations as long as they follow conditions that also govern states like Colorado that have legalized marijuana.”

The AP reports, “A Duluth firefighter is charged with sexually assaulting a baby girl. Caleb Lofald is facing four charges, including second-degree criminal sexual conduct. A criminal complaint accuses Lofald of having sexual contact with a four-month-old girl at his residence in May 2013. The complaint says police investigators found 11 images of the baby. The complaint says police also obtained secretly recorded video made in September showing a 6-year-old boy and an adult woman in various stages of undress in the defendant’s guest room and bathroom.” Are we still jailing people for pot?

Meanwhile, back in the states. Jon Collins (again) and Tim Nelson at MPR say, “[Target’s retreat from Canada] will also result in job losses for those who work on Canadian operations from the Twin Cities. About 600 people work in Minnesota on Target’s Canadian operations, but it’s too early to say how many may be laid off or when, said Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder. Executives will be evaluating positions on a case-by-case basis, she added. ‘We do expect there will be a reduction in headcount,’ she said.” Which I guess is better than a summary reduction in heads.

We have an Oscar angle! MPR says, “If Julianne Moore wins an Academy Award next month one of the names you may hear in her acceptance speech is Sandy Oltz, a resident of Sartell, Minnesota. Moore was nominated Thursday in the best actress category for playing a woman with early onset Alzheimer’s disease in the movie ‘Still Alice’.Sandy Oltz Courtesy of the Alzheimer’s Association Oltz helped her prepare for that role. Oltz was diagnosed four years ago with early onset Alzheimer’s when she was 47 years old. She became Moore’s consultant during the film and was on the New York film set during its creation in March.” Ironically, her toughest competition is probably Reese Witherspoon as Minnesotan Cheryl Strayed in “Wild.”

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Comments (4)

  1. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 01/16/2015 - 07:01 pm.

    Given the insured’s (almost universal) duty to mitigate damages (not let further damage occur), it seems rather optimistic to assume that claimants for incidents later than the first church-known victims of a particular priest will recover anything from the insurer.

    The bankruptcy set-up minimizes both insurer and church pay-outs.

  2. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 01/16/2015 - 08:09 pm.

    Avoiding responsibility

    “…It’s not about being fair to victims’, said Clohessy. ‘The goal from day one has been to keep the secrets secret and that remains the goal now’.”

    That sounds about right to me. Declaring bankruptcy provides an excellent window into the ethics of the archbishop personally, as well as the clerical administration of the archbishopric. Far too many priests have already demonstrated their own ethics, or the lack thereof. Sadly, even though they’re a small minority, the ongoing protection of those pedophiles and sexual predators by local church authorities has managed to sully the reputation of many other people who are totally innocent.

    I doubt that the archbishop remembers what shame feels like, but if he did, this would be a time for him to be feeling it.

  3. Submitted by Dennis Litfin on 01/16/2015 - 09:40 pm.

    Beging that they are not

    a Taxpaying citizen, are they getting any breaks here ?

  4. Submitted by Richard O'Neil on 01/17/2015 - 06:05 pm.

    Archdiocese Bankruptcy

    Well, this is a large move forward. At least all of the claimants, i.e. abused, will get a share of the settlement regardless of when they filed suit. And they get their day in court as they well deserve. This is not an excuse by any means, but I don’t believe that the “management” understood the real depth and breadth of the abuse. It’s apparent that they thought they were dealing with a “few” isolated instances when in fact there were many – not just a few.

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