Archdiocese lawyer gives judge upbeat assessment of possible settlement 

Santa Fe New Mexican

May 16, 2022

By Rick Ruggles

An attorney for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe expressed hope Monday a resolution could be announced Tuesday in its 3½-year bankruptcy case.

“I’m pleased to tell the court that we are very, very close,” Tom Walker of Albuquerque told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge David Thuma in an update. Walker asked that a status conference scheduled Monday be moved to Tuesday to allow for more negotiations, and Thuma complied.

The Archdiocese of Santa Fe filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in December 2018 and has been trying to raise money to work out a settlement with about 400 people who allege sexual abuse perpetrated by Catholic clergy members.

The archdiocese also has become entangled in conflict with some of its insurers over how much they should pay. Insurance is expected to provide a chunk of whatever sum goes to the accusers. The archdiocese has said it attempted to verify the accusations and therefore is fairly certain most or all involved in this case are victims of clergy abuse.

Thuma said Monday he understood the parties involved are “close to reaching a deal.”

“We’re very close,” Walker said again.

Although sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy emerged publicly more than 30 years ago as a nationwide and even global crisis, New Mexico was especially hard hit in the last century because it was home to a rehabilitation center for priests in Jemez Springs.

That center, run by an order called the Servants of the Paraclete, started 75 years ago, primarily as a haven for priests struggling with emotional issues and alcoholism. But in time, more and more pedophile priests were sent there.

Evidence has shown some of those priests were then allowed to serve in New Mexico parishes on weekends or for longer periods. That order for the most part now resides in Missouri.

The Catholic Diocese of Gallup settled in 2016 with about 55 accusers for a total of about $20 million. Close to 30 dioceses and Catholic orders have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as a way to make reparations without having to close entire dioceses.

Besides insurance money, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has sold individual pieces of property, bundled small properties and sold them at two auctions, and collected donations.