Thomas Abood, chairman of the Archdiocesan Finance Council and Reorganization Task Force, said the settlement will be outlined in greater detail when it is filed in court. But he said most of the funding, roughly $170 million, will come from insurance carriers. The rest will come from parishes, the archdiocese, a pension fund and real estate sales.
"We will do everything we can to expedite it," Abood said, adding that he hopes the process can be completed in the next few months. "We have gone everywhere we could to raise money for this settlement."
The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in 2015, two years after the Minnesota Legislature opened a three-year window that allowed people who had been sexually abused in the past to sue for damages. That resulted in hundreds of claims being filed against the archdiocese.
The bankruptcy case proceeded slowly as attorneys argued over how much money the archdiocese should have to pay. The archdiocese reported its net worth was $45 million. But attorneys for the victims maintained that the archdiocese's true worth was over $1 billion, counting assets of its 187 Roman Catholic parishes, as well as schools, cemeteries and other church-related entities. Victims' attorneys said those assets should be used to make more money available for victims.
Last month, a federal appeals court affirmed a 2016 decision by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel that the parishes and other nonprofit entities were independent, meaning their assets could not be tapped in the bankruptcy case. Last December, Kressel rejected competing reorganization plans filed by the archdiocese and a creditors' committee and ordered both sides back into mediation.
Pamela Foohey, associate professor at Indiana University Maurer School of Law, said this settlement speaks to the value of negotiations — as the settlement amount is about $50 million more than the original plan put forth by the archdiocese.
"It allows survivors to feel like justice was served and ... having a voice was really important to accepting the outcome," she said. And, in going back to the table, the victims' advocates were able to secure more money from insurance carriers, which means victims don't have to take what's given because further negotiations "might show that they have more than they are saying they do."
Fifteen Catholic dioceses or archdioceses across the country have filed for bankruptcy, including three in Minnesota, as they sought to protect themselves from growing claims of sexual abuse by clergy members. A fourth Minnesota diocese, St. Cloud, announced its intention to file in February but hasn't done so.
Forliti reported from Minneapolis. Associated Press Writer Youssef Rddad also contributed from Minneapolis.