Continue to trust God as bankruptcy resolution comes into sight

| Archbishop Bernard Hebda | January 26, 2017

Bishop Andrew Cozzens and I just returned from the annual weeklong retreat of the bishops of Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota. We were blessed to have as our retreat master Father Scott Traynor, who did a phenomenal job of giving a diverse group of bishops lots of food for meditation and growth. While Father Traynor is a priest of the Diocese of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, we took pride in the fact that he grew up in our archdiocese and still has a great affection for the local Church that formed him.

I was particularly grateful for his reminder that the Lord often desires that we leave the heavy lifting to him. Father Traynor provided us with lots of reminders that nothing is impossible with God; that he can do the unexpected, especially when even our best efforts seem to be coming up short. How important it is that we always turn to the Lord in prayer and trust that he can bring good out of even the most difficult situations.

That was just the message I needed as I returned home and found the hallways of the chancery filled with boxes in preparation for our move from Cathedral Hill to St. Paul’s East Side. While I’m refreshed from the retreat, I can’t help but note that there’s a certain sobriety in the air. It’s not just the logistical challenges of a move of this proportion, but the felt consequences of a collective commitment to justice and restitution. With the hope of maximizing the compensation that the archdiocese can offer to those who have been hurt by the Church, we’ve sold my residence and our three office buildings (as well as some real estate that the archdiocese owned in Northfield) and will begin the next phase of our history as tenants on the East Side of St. Paul. There’s a cost to doing what is right.

The move not only coincides with the second anniversary of our filing for bankruptcy, but also with a decision on the part of the bankruptcy court to place two competing plans before our creditors for a vote. While the issues are by no means resolved, my brother bishops, who have gone through this process before in other dioceses, tell me that we’re probably entering the last act (even if not the last scene) of this tragedy.

I pray that is true. In a recent informal conversation with one of the claimants, we both found ourselves longing for that day when the bankruptcy is behind us, when it will be easier to treat each other as family rather than as adversaries, and when we can together work to make sure that we have done all that we can to prevent any other young person or vulnerable adult from suffering the scourge of abuse in this part of God’s vineyard.

Given that we have sadly undermined our position of trust in the eyes of so many of those who have suffered abuse, I’m grateful that the court will be the guarantor of honesty and fairness. The judge has been scrutinizing our expenses and holding our feet to the fire as we have worked with the mediator that he appointed to pull together all of our available assets. While our legal expenses have been significant, the court’s review and approval give us the confidence that we were indeed making a reasonable investment in a just resolution. I was delighted that with the help of our lawyers working with our insurers, we have recently been able to increase the pool of assets that we could offer from approximately $65 million to more than $155 million. A portion of this pool will be required to pay costs of administration of the case (including professional fees for the victim and parish committees, as well as for the archdiocese). We are hopeful, however, that the vast majority of the funds will go directly to a trust for the benefit of the victims.

I would ask you to join me in praying that the Lord will soon remove any remaining obstacles to the achievement of a fair resolution. Now that our pool of available assets has been maximized, any further legal controversies can be expected to result in the whittling away of the available resources while postponing recovery for those who have been waiting for compensation.

It seems to me that we’re certainly at one of those junctures in life where we have to ask God to “do the heavy lifting.” We need not only an outpouring of his wisdom to facilitate a conclusion to the bankruptcy, but also the salve of his love to bring the healing of hearts and restoration of trust that are so essential if we are to find good in the present circumstances. Above all, let’s pledge to create a space in our hearts for the Lord’s grace to creep in so that we might be his instruments as he restores and rebuilds this local Church according to his loving design.

Sigamos confiando en Dios a medida que la resolución de bancarrota sale a la vista

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