The archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul in Minnesota announced that the Archdiocese plans to establish a $210 million trust fund for hundreds of victims of clergy sexual abuse. This would be one of the biggest settlements of its kind, and it comes as a result of a years long negotiation in one of the highest profile cases involving abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. The settlement is awaiting approval from a judge and 450 victims. It is expected that the victims will vote in favor of the settlement.
The Archdiocese of St. Paul in Minnesota is one of a dozen Roman Catholic dioceses to have responded to lawsuits over allegations of sexual abuse by declaring bankruptcy. Minnesota Legislature passed the Child Victims Act in 2013 and this act temporarily lifted the statute of limitations on child sexual abuse cases. After that, hundreds of victims of past abuse were able to file lawsuits which led to dioceses declaring bankruptcy.
As New York Times reports, Terry McKiernan, co-director and president of BishopAccountability.org, which tracks clergy sex abuse cases, said that the settlement, if approved, will be the largest ever for a sex abuse case involving an archdiocese that has filed for bankruptcy protection and the second largest over all. According to the website, the largest settlement, $660 million, was reached by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and 508 survivors in 2007. “Survivors are getting, on average, substantial settlements for what they suffered, and that’s really important,” Mr. McKiernan said of the Minnesota case.
Although the amount of money for each victim is yet to be determined the entire amount of $210 million sounds promising. If the settlement is approved, the victims will get substantial settlements for what they suffered no matter the fact that money is not able to make victims forget their tragedies. Archbishop Bernard Hebda said he was grateful to victims who came forward. "I recognize that the abuse stole so much from you, your childhood, your innocence, your safety, your ability to trust, and in many cases, your faith," he said, according to Fox News, adding that he hopes the settlement brings closure to those who were harmed. "We've been working with them very carefully to try to formulate this in a way that benefits them to the maximum."
This sounds like a positive change in the archdiocese which mishandled allegations of sexual abuse by its clergy and whose former archbishop was accused of covering up abusive priests and keeping them in ministry for years.
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