If you can’t beat ’em, delay ’em…

Canonical Consultation


Jennifer Haselberger

Last Friday it was announced that the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis has managed to secure yet another delay in its pending criminal case in Ramsey County. The Archdiocese was scheduled to appear on August 25 as a result of previous requests for postponement that had pushed back the date from June 24 to July 17 and now all the way to October 29. On the one hand, such a delay works in the Archdiocese’s favor, as it permits additional time for negotiations with insurance carriers without any conviction ‘on the books’. At the same time, it leaves the clergy and faithful of this Archdiocese in limbo. We can’t move on until these issues are resolved, and the delays mean that resolution, amongst other things, has once again been put on hold.

That is not to say, however, that nothing of interest will be happening in the coming weeks. On September 3, for instance, there will be a hearing before bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel on a motion by the already-controversial Parish Committee of Unsecured Creditors (the parishes of the Archdiocese who have presented themselves as a group on par with victims in terms of being owed money by the Archdiocese for abuse claims and other administrative reasons). The Parish Committee is seeking expanded access to the confidential proofs of claim filed against the Archdiocese by abuse victims. Specifically, the Parish Committee wants pastors, parish trustees, and members of the parish finance council to have access to the confidential information contained in those proofs of claim when either the abuse alleged or the perpetrator of the abuse is connected to the parish.

According to the arguments of the attorneys for the Parish Committee, such access is necessary in order for the pastors, trustees, and finance council members to properly exercise their fiduciary duty to the parish. There is a certain logic to that argument, at least as it reads on the page. However, it seems more than a little self-serving for the Archdiocese (which is not opposing the motion) to suggest that the parish representatives need access to such information on victims when, of course, it denied them access to similar confidential information on clergy that may have prevented the abuse from occurring in the first place.

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