That is the message the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis is trying to communicate in advance of an avalanche of lawsuits about to be filed against parishes. As was mentioned here in an earlier post, in the absence of a mediated agreement regarding the resolution of victims' claims, attorneys representing victims of sexual abuse by clergy have been planning to file lawsuits against individual parishes as a means of preserving their clients' claims prior to the May 2016 deadline established by the Minnesota Child Victims Act.

The Archdiocese is anticipating that the suits against parishes will be filed in the next two to six weeks, and so it has begun to prepare pastors and parish staff to respond. Parishioners of impacted parishes can expect to receive letters from Archbishop Hebda and others this weekend, and parish staff have been given 'talking points' for responding to calls from angry or worried parishioners. Parishes that are sued have been advised to consult an attorney, meaning that significant costs could accrue to parishes as a result of the lawsuits.

Significantly, MPR reported yesterday that the Archdiocese told a federal bankruptcy judge that it hopes to file a reorganization plan by the end of May, but that would be after the deadline. Moreover, attorneys for victims made it clear that the Archdiocese has not shared the proposed plan with nor secured the support of the unsecured creditors committee, which represents victims of sexual abuse.

Had a reorganization plan been agreed to, it is unlikely that victims' attorneys would be planning to file lawsuits against the parishes. 


04/02/2016 12:48am

There is a way to prevent continued crisis- in fact, it is the ONLY way. Put the laity in charge of safe environment practices, accountable to someone other than the Church herself. This includes things like- how allegations will be determined as credible? How will we decide who can reenter ministry? What kind of monitoring structure should we have? How will we respond to victims? To expect us to believe that the very system that created this complex structure of secrets and hiding could stop dead in their tracks, turn around and suddenly have a shiny, new, healthy safe environment program is ludicrous. Either they're crazy for thinking will believe it, or we are crazy for believing it.

04/05/2016 12:14pm

That is an b excellent idea Laurely. Th lay people should decide how to monitor priests, when and where and if they can practice being a priest.

Michael Skiendzielewski
04/02/2016 8:24am

No small wonder that they appointed a Civil Attorney as the new archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

04/02/2016 2:49pm

Is the RCC even a religion anymore? Sounds more like the Trump Church. Don't hear much about being Christlike anymore - much more about lawyers and lawsuits and CYA- no talk of morality (which is probably good - allowing their brotherhood to molest and then tell me not to eat meat on fridays - I take my fri steak medium rare btw- the hypocricy would blow the minds of the rational) why does anyone still participate? I continue to watch from afar, from a morbid curiosity - have been back for a couple funerals, no more. Lifelong Catholic, between Boston, Nienstedt , and Flynn (a personal acquaintance who's hand I would never again shake... ) and St Louis and LA and Ireland and India and....) I am free!

04/02/2016 5:38pm

Suing individual parishes to indemnify victims seems a bit disingenuous given the fact that these parishes did not hire or have any say in what priest was sent to them. They were just as much victims as were the individuals who were abused. These parishes need to be held harmless, because they were not even aware of what was taking place in locations not associated with the parishes themselves. And, if there was any knowledge, it was selectively held within individuals who did not reveal it to the general parish assembly. Consequently, how could the general parish assembly be held liable for something they did not have knowledge of?

04/04/2016 9:16am

Amos: wishful thinking on your part

I wish you all the best.

04/03/2016 7:41am

So it seems even the new Bishop is letting attorneys dictate the actions of the diocese. Once again the victims' suffering is continued. Their faith is being mocked by the hierarchy! The laity and the Parish communities are being trampled under the watchful eye of Hebda and the leadership.

Doesn't the Church teach that there is a higher law, yet the hierarchy operates in the legal (lower) law out of fear. Morally, the hierarchy should respond to the suffering of the FAITHFUL who have been abused and USE the legal system to respond quickly instead of stalling.

It seems the sheep are being preyed upon by the shepherds. Are those shepherds actually wolves? That's for God to judge, but the faithful need to question.

"Be not Afraid"? Practice what you preach! Shame on you B. Hebda!


Barely Catholic
04/03/2016 4:40pm

It would seem that the bishops who were in charge need to be sued, not the parishes. But not before they are charged with the crimes they committed. None of them took the vow of poverty.

04/05/2016 8:18am

They took the vow of obedience - and they follow that like their lives depend on it - ignoring the safety of children, so the hierarchy can be protected and the good ole' boys club can keep molesting. Thanks to the internet, we don't have to take it anymore - the information is too easy to spread now - look at Battle Creek and Herr Nienstedt. So the Bishops and the Cardinals and the Pope's keep trying to dictate as they always have, but we don't have to take it anymore.

04/07/2016 10:24pm

Jennifer, I really appreciate you sharing this information via your blog. It is vital to help the laity better understand what is truly happening 'behind the curtain'. Your work is invaluable. Laurely282, your statements and thoughts are spot on. Please know there are many that feel the same way. This blog consistently reveals the secrecy and madness that haven't changed in the approach of leadership. BTW, what single action has occurred as a result of the recent 'listening sessions'? What a mess.

04/10/2016 4:52pm

And why is Flynn going around doing Confirmations????

04/22/2016 4:14pm

Hey Jennifer,

Any thoughts on recent letter sent to parish administrators?

04/29/2016 4:17pm

Regardless of what side you're on as far as 'he-sued' 'she-sued' goes, you have to understand that these were children. Children that were advantaged and emotionally and psychologically scarred by clergymen and priests. I believe the Bible refers to this exact sin by saying "You'd be better off tying weights around your neck and jumping into the heart of the sea."

Comments are closed.


    Jennifer Haselberger is a canon lawyer who served as the Chancellor for Canonical Affairs in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis until April of 2013, when she resigned in protest of the Archdiocese's handling of sexual misconduct by clergy.

    To receive notice when a new post is added, follow @jmhaselberger.


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