Twin Cities archdiocese files list of assets, debts

The cathedral
The Cathedral of St. Paul, St. Paul, Minn., partially obscured in the fog.
Regina McCombs / MPR News

The Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has assets totaling more than $45 million — including about $11 million in real estate — according to a schedule of assets and liabilities filed Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

The filing, required as part of the bankruptcy process, provides the public with the most detailed picture yet of the archdiocese's financial situation. But experts caution the numbers are a merely a starting point for creditors, and could change.

The archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in mid-January, becoming the 12th U.S. diocese to seek reorganization in the face of sex abuse claims. Archdiocese leaders have said bankruptcy is the best way to fairly compensate victims of clergy sexual abuse while allowing the archdiocese to continue the Catholic Church's mission.

Archbishop John Nienstedt said in a statement that Friday's disclosures are "necessary steps of transparency and accountability and essential in finding some measure of justice for those harmed by clergy sexual abuse."

The archdiocese faces numerous lawsuits after Minnesota lawmakers created a three-year window for victims of past sexual abuse to file claims that otherwise would have been barred by the statute of limitations. Since 2013, the archdiocese has been sued roughly two dozen times and has received more than 100 notices of potential claims.

Explore the full investigation Clergy abuse, cover-up and crisis in the Twin Cities Catholic church

Friday's filing lists liabilities of about $15.9 million. That figure does not include money owed for settlements already reached in sex abuse cases, nor does it include estimates of what would be owed to those who have not reached settlements, said Joe Kueppers, the archdiocese's chancellor for civil affairs.

What's left once liabilities are subtracted won't necessarily be money available to victims, said Pamela Foohey, an associate professor at Indiana University's Maurer School of Law. However, she said the figures can provide a useful starting point.

"Oftentimes, schedules are updated multiple times, with things they left off, or they put new numbers in," she said, adding that the filing is "more to notify the world and, I think, notify the bankruptcy court what's going on."

Jeff Anderson, an attorney for many victims, said the financial information would be "heavily scrutinized."

Some details:

• The archdiocese lists more than $2 million in "donor-restricted funds," or contributions that were provided for specific causes, such as scholarships or missions.

• Real property listed as assets include the Cathedral of St. Paul, which the archdiocese leases for $1 per year. The filing doesn't assume a value for the cathedral, but the estimated market value is $21.2 million.

• Personal property includes about $23.9 million in financial accounts; about $94,378 in books, maps, art and other objects; and $265,400 in jewelry _ $236,000 of which consists of a handmade sapphire and diamond ring donated to the archdiocese.

• The filing says the archdiocese reimbursed Nienstedt for $23,617 in expenses since Jan. 1, 2014.

The archdiocese has said the day-to-day operations will continue through bankruptcy, and that parishes and schools, which are incorporated separately from the archdiocese's central office, should not be affected.