Judge: Church needs better ads to inform abuse victims

A federal judge today chastised the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for trying to reach sex-abuse victims through legal notices placed in newspapers.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel was not happy to hear that the archdiocese has relied on legal notices to inform abuse victims that they have until Aug. 3 to file a claim in the church's bankruptcy. The judge lamented that "no one reads the legal notices."

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Archdiocese attorney Richard Anderson said the church will address the judge's concerns.

"He indicated he'd like to see broader ads in the general circulation part of the paper and we're in the process of doing that," Anderson said.

The archdiocese, abuse victims, insurers, parishes and other parties are now in mediation, trying to devise a plan that ensures the future of the archdiocese and compensates victims.

Kressel also approved the formation of a bankruptcy committee that will represent the interests of nearly 200 parishes.

Parish attorneys argued that the existing creditors' committee cannot fairly represent parishes because all committee members represent sex-abuse victims. Dozens of parishes face sex-abuse claims.

"Parishes have a significant financial interest in this case," said Mary Jo Jensen-Carter, an attorney for 118 parishes. "Their interest needs to be represented. And a parish committee is the best way to do it."

The archdiocese holds millions of dollars in parish funds and parishes have other potential claims against the archdiocese.