Deadline arrives for clergy abuse claims in New Mexico

Associated Press

June 18, 2019

By Susan Montoya Bryan

Monday marked the deadline for filing claims against New Mexico’s largest Catholic diocese as it wades through a bankruptcy prompted by the clergy sex abuse scandal.

Lawyers for hundreds of people who are submitting claims are hopeful the case will shed more light on a scandal that has rocked parishes across the globe.

The case against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe is about more than reparations, said Levi Monagle, an attorney with an Albuquerque-based law firm that has represented hundreds of clients in a state that was once home to a treatment center where church authorities sent priests accused of abuse.

As much as they are looking for peace, Monagle said his clients want more transparency and accountability from the church.

“This crisis has devastated our state, and it has left open wounds in our state,” he said in an interview. “There has to be a serious and diligent effort on behalf of the archdiocese to begin rebuilding trust with the communities of New Mexico, and my hope is this process will be an avenue for that.”

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe shocked parishioners across much of New Mexico when it filed for Chapter 11 reorganization last year, joining nearly two dozen dioceses around the United States that have been struggling with the fallout from the abuse scandal.

Archbishop John Wester has said it was the equitable thing to do as church reserves dwindled. The archdiocese says $52 million in insurance money and its own funds have gone to settling 300 claims over the years.

There are expected to be around 300 claims filed as part of the bankruptcy case, with nearly all of those relating to allegations of abuse. Officials expect to release the total later this week.

The claim forms , which include numerous questions, will be sealed and remain confidential unless the person filing it indicates otherwise.

Just days ahead of the deadline, Wester put out a request for prayers, acknowledging the need for emotional and spiritual healing.

The archdiocese said in a statement Friday that it wanted to assure people of its desire and efforts to make sure that such crimes never happen again.

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