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St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese files for bankruptcy over abuse claims

The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis filed for bankruptcy following years of sex abuse claims

The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis filed for bankruptcy Friday following years of sex abuse claims that have plagued the jurisdiction.

The purpose of filing for bankruptcy is to provide the "fairest and most helpful recourse" for victims and survivors who have made claims against the archdiocese, Archbishop John Nienstedt said in a Friday letter.

The archidocese has been criticized heavily for its handling of the sensitive issue.

"This is not an attempt to silence victims or deny them justice in court," Nienstedt wrote in the letter. "On the contrary, we want to respond positively in compensating them for their suffering."

The archdiocese, which serves about 825,000 Catholics in the Twin Cities area, is the 12th U.S. diocese to seek bankruptcy protection after sex abuse claims. The archdiocese has 21 pending clergy sex abuse cases and faces the potential for more than 100 additional suits.

The archdiocese says that although it has insurance coverage, it might not be "available" to pay every claim or the full amount of every claim, according to an archdiocese publication.

"This is the fairest way to resolve existing sexual abuse lawsuits as well as future claims while permitting the archdiocese to continue essential ministry and support to local people, parishes and Catholic schools," an archdiocese statement said.

There have been roughly two dozen lawsuits filed and the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese has gotten more than 100 notices of potential claims, the archdiocese's chancellor for civil affairs told the Associated Press.

Nienstedt pledged in the letter to focus on creating and maintaining safe environments, resolving issues through collaboration, cooperation and reconciliation, directing appropriate resources toward these efforts, caring for those harmed by clergy sexual abuse and working to restore trust with the clergy.

"The filing for reorganization marks another important step on our way forward as a local church," Nienstedt said.

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