Diocese of Winona-Rochester to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

| November 20, 2018 | 0 Comments

The Diocese of Winona-Rochester will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy by the end of November to compensate victims/survivors of clergy sexual abuse and to ensure the diocese’s daily operations can continue uninterrupted, Bishop John Quinn said in a Nov. 18 letter included in parish bulletins at weekend Masses.

“Together, we are committed to creating an environment of healing for these victims and their families, as well as for all of us in our diocesan community,” Bishop Quinn said. “As part of this healing, it is incumbent upon us to create a path forward that provides just compensation for the victims of abuse. This path forward must include public acknowledgment of their pain and an apology for it as well as financial compensation.”

The diocese is facing 121 claims of sexual abuse of minors by priests from the 1960s through the 1980s.

The letter said that all of the accused have either died, been removed from ministry, or laicized and no longer function in any priestly capacity in the diocese.

The diocese over the last 15 years also has taken important measures to protect children from abuse, including safe environment training and background checks on clergy, employees and volunteers, Bishop Quinn said.

Diocesan officials are working with lawyers representing the survivors of abuse as it undertakes the bankruptcy process, the bishop said. “My prayers go out to those who have experienced sexual abuse, and I stand committed to providing support and healing,”
he said.

Matthew Willkom, director of communications for the diocese, said the bankruptcy process will not impact day-to-day operations of the diocese, parishes and schools.

The Diocese of Winona-Rochester will be the fourth Minnesota diocese to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a result of clergy sexual abuse claims filed under the Minnesota Child Victims Act. The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis entered bankruptcy in January 2015 and expects to complete reorganization by the end of the year. The Diocese of Duluth entered bankruptcy in December 2015, followed by the Diocese of New Ulm in March 2017. Bishop Donald Kettler of St. Cloud said earlier this year that the St. Cloud Diocese plans to file for bankruptcy, but it has yet to do so.

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