Catholics asked, archbishop answers: How Reorganization affects pensions, schools, parishes

Since I directed that a petition for a Chapter 11 Reorganization of the archdiocese corporation be filed in the United States Bankruptcy Court, many of you have contacted me with your questions. Please allow me to attempt to answer a few, in hopes the answer can help others.

Q. I am a teacher/former employee of the Archdiocese. How does the filing affect my pension?

A. More than 6,500 have shared their gifts with the Church and are participants in either the lay person or priest pension plan, which are both managed by an independent board of trustees. Judge Robert Kressel, who is the federal bankruptcy judge overseeing our Reorganization filing, approved our request to continue normal business with respect to the pension plans. This means during the course of the Reorganization, those receiving pension benefits will continue to receive benefits.

Q. How is the filing going to affect the funding for my child’s school? Is the archdiocese going to cut back on its support?

A. Catholic schools are not included in this filing. Most schools get their funding from a combination of sources, including parish support, tuition, Catholic Services Appeal Foundation, AIM Higher, donations, and grants from outside organizations. I expect that those sources of funding will continue.

Q. Can the court order an increase in parish assessments?

A. No. This is a decision that would be made by the archdiocese on its own accord or as part of a negotiated settlement.

Q. What happens to the lawsuits the Archdiocese is currently facing?

A. Under federal bankruptcy law, all lawsuits stop during this process. Our hope is that they can be resolved as part of this Reorganization process.

Q. Why doesn’t the Vatican help out financially?

A. While the Catholic Church is hierarchical in its structure regarding morals and values, its parishes and dioceses are separate legal entities. The Vatican is not legally responsible for the financial obligations of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.

Q. How will our Church keep this from happening again?

A. We have implemented changes recommended by an independent Task Force, including creating the position of Director of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment under the leadership of a former superintendent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. We continue to work with victims and survivors to help them in their healing, while adhering to strong safety protocols for our priests and lay employees.

Q. Our priest has asked us to pray, but I want to do more. What else can I do?

A. Praying is always a good idea! Pray for each other, and especially for those who have been abused by a member of the clergy. You could also educate yourself about this process so you can accurately answer questions you may be getting from family, friends and co-workers. Please continue to be generous with your time, talent and treasure to your local parish and school. Our work of bringing people closer to God continues.

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