Archbishop: No plan to make 'an additional appeal' to parishes for settlement funds

Archbishop Bernard Hebda speaks during a press conference.
Archbishop Bernard Hebda speaks during a press conference regarding the settlement with the Archdiocese outside the Archdiocese Offices in Saint Paul, Minn. on May 31, 2018.
Lacey Young | MPR News File

In an interview with MPR News on Wednesday, Archbishop Bernard Hebda addressed a proposed $210 million settlement fund for victims of clergy sexual abuse, efforts to prevent future abuse and the path forward for the Twin Cities archdiocese.

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

Most of the settlement money — $170 million — would come from insurers for the archdiocese and parishes. Hedba told host Kerri Miller that parishes will not be required to help fund the rest of the settlement, but he noted some are contributing voluntarily.

"It's not like we're going to be making an additional appeal — at least at this point, that's not part of the plan," he said. "Certainly, we've already been hearing from people that desire to be part of this, who recognize the responsibility of the church at large for the situation."

But several callers who identified as Catholic chastised the church in comments to Hebda. One woman, a lifelong Catholic from Minneapolis, vowed never to give another dime to the archdiocese.

"You are lucky people are hanging on and still participating as Catholics," she said. "The damage is so dramatic. It seems reasonable that people would walk away from the church. The fact that you are potentially wanting my donations to my individual parish to go to pay part of this penalty is outrageous."

Hebda said the church has taken steps to quickly address allegations of abuse and highlighted a review board whose members include abuse survivors.

"Any time that there's any allegation that would come into the archdiocese, not only do we involve law enforcement, but we would also involve that review board," he said. "The opportunities for anything other than transparency are minimal."

Hebda, who was installed as archbishop in 2016, said he never despaired as he tried to find a way to resolve the church's bankruptcy and compensate abuse victims.

"Even though callers were rather critical, there are wonderful Catholic lay people in this archdiocese who have been so supportive of our efforts who are equally mindful of what happened in the past, and at the same time are seeing that we're committed — we need to be committed — to doing better in the future."

The plan requires approval by abuse victims and the judge overseeing the bankruptcy of the archdiocese. Court hearings on the plan have yet to be set.

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