It is with gratitude that I stand here today, after what has been an extremely difficult time for so many in our community, to announce an agreement to resolve the bankruptcy of the Archdiocese. The proposed plan, establishes a trust fund of $210 million will soon be made available to resolve the claims against the Archdiocese. Abuse survivors could expect payments soon after the court approves the plan. At the same time, by means of this consensual plan, the Archdiocese and its parishes bring definitive resolution to this matter in a way that avoids further litigation and that allows the local Church to carry on with its mission of spreading and living the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I am grateful to all of the victims/survivors who have bravely come forward. Without their courage and persistence, today would not have been possible. I have been humbled by their willingness to share their stories with me. To those of you who have done so, I thank you for that gift. I recognize that the abuse stole so much from you – your childhood, innocence, safety, ability to trust, and in many cases, your faith. Relationships with family and friends, relationships in your parishes and your communities were harmed. Lives were forever changed. The Church let you down. I am very sorry.
I am particularly grateful to Judge Robert Kressel for the direction he provided which led to this settlement and I hasten to thank Magistrate Arthur Boylan and Paul Van Osselaer for their extraordinary efforts as our mediators. They were true honest brokers in working with all parties
I am grateful to the many advocates who worked so passionately on behalf of survivors, including Jeff Anderson, Mike Finnegan, and Rob Kugler. They, along with counsel for the parishes of the Archdiocese, played a vital role in helping us all find a path to a just and fair resolution.
I am likewise grateful to our legal team at Briggs and Morgan, Charlie Rogers, Lauren Lonergan and Rich Anderson, who worked tirelessly to analyze, address and advance this matter for over three years, in a way that reflected the Gospel values, objectives and convictions of this local Church.
Many others deserve gratitude – Bishop Cozzens, the priests, faithful, staff, and volunteers from throughout the Archdiocese. I know that we stand here today because of your prayers and involvement. One of those volunteers is standing next to me. Tom Abood – who chairs our Archdiocesan Finance Council – gave generously of his time and experience as the chair of our Reorganization Task Force, a group composed of our legal team, staff and volunteers. For the last year and a half, Tom, a husband and father of three young boys, supervised our legal strategy, led us through countless meetings, many days of mediation and personally negotiated today’s agreement on behalf of the Archdiocese. We can never thank you and your family enough, Tom.
Even in this moment of taking another step in providing justice to survivors of abuse, we know our work in this regard is not complete. Under the direction of Judge Tim O’Malley and Janell Rasmussen, the Deputy Director for Victim Services, our Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment team will continue its work on demonstrable actions to ensure our churches, schools and communities are safe places for all. Our December 2015 Settlement Agreement with the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office that established what County Attorney John Choi called “unprecedented” child safety policies, continues to be the national standard for maintaining safe environments. Our progress reports to the court since that time evidence our commitment to permanent change and with the settlement today, we reaffirm our efforts to protect children and vulnerable adults.
While today marks the end of a difficult period for many, today really signals a new beginning. The completion of the bankruptcy process allows pursuit of a new day that has many realities – atonement, healing and restoration of trust.
I ask that we enter this new day together, in hope and in love. It is only together that we will find our way into the light of God’s love.