Now that Monday's deadline for filing claims has passed, the bankruptcy case of the Twin Cities archdiocese moves to its next stage.
By the deadline, more than 600 claims had been filed, including 407 by alleged victims of clergy sex abuse.
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What happens to these claims now?
First, they'll be evaluated in the mediation that is already taking place with the archdiocese, its insurers and two creditors' committees — one for parishes and one made up of abuse survivors.
They'll be looking at each claim and deciding whether they think it's valid. Arguments could arise over certain claims, as has happened in other bankruptcies.
This includes all claims — not just the abuse ones. There are 407 claims related to sexual abuse, but there are 262 from other people, parishes, schools, nonprofits and other groups. All of these need to be reviewed.
Once the claims are reviewed, parties to the mediation will need to reach a deal on a plan to pay creditors. If they are able to agree on a plan, a judge would likely need to approve it.
How much money is at stake?
We don't know yet. Some of the claims are more placeholders than anything else, and most of them don't even have a dollar amount listed.
Some claims list an amount, and the court has said those claims total nearly $26 million.
Also, it's important to note that merely having filed a claim for a certain amount doesn't mean the claimant will get that much money, or any money at all.
Why would anyone file a claim without knowing how much they're owed?
First, because the deadline was Monday — and because it's complicated.
For example, there are claims by Catholic Charities, and many religious orders, that say, "Look, we aren't aware right now that the archdiocese owes us any money, but we might find out that it does down the road and we want to reserve our right to get that money in bankruptcy."
Several of the religious orders are clearly concerned about getting stuck with a bill for lawsuits related to clergy sex abuse. Several of their claims say that they want the archdiocese to cover the costs of any litigation that might happen later on in this process.
How long is it going to take to resolve all of this?
No one on any side knows for sure. But legal experts expect this will take months — if not years — to resolve.
What has the archdiocese said about the claims?
Archbishop Bernard Hebda told the Star Tribune that he found the number of abuse claims "staggering" and that the number helped him realize how much pain is out there.
Hebda is the temporary administrator brought in to replace Archbishop John Nienstedt. He's only been there a few months. The archdiocese's own files clearly show that the archdiocese was aware of hundreds of alleged victims over the years.
Just yesterday, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee reached a settlement in its bankruptcy case. Does that have any bearing on what happens in the Twin Cities archdiocese?
Not directly. But what happened in Milwaukee is quite alarming to abuse survivors here.
In the Milwaukee case, 330 abuse survivors will receive a total of $21 million, but not everyone will get the same amount. That case stretched on for nearly five years and racked up legal costs of more than $18 million, and the Milwaukee archdiocese was aggressive in trying to exclude claims from many of the alleged victims there. Abuse survivors are hoping to avoid such an episode here.