Diocese of Winona-Rochester Preparing to File for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy


Matthew L. Willkom
Director, Office of Communications
Diocese of Winona-Rochester

Diocese of Winona-Rochester Preparing to File for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy
Creates a Path Forward for Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse

Winona, Minn. - November 20, 2018 - After much thought and prayerful consideration, the Most Rev. John M. Quinn, Bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester, and through consultation with the College of Consultors, the Diocesan Finance Council, the Presbyteral Council and the Trustees of the Diocesan Civil Corporation Board, has accepted the recommendation that the Diocese file for Chapter 11 of the US Bankruptcy Code. Bishop Quinn believes this is the most just and equitable way to hold the Diocese accountable for past child sexual abuse by clergy. The bankruptcy filing is made in cooperation with legal counsel representing the survivors and is planned to happen later this month.

“I believe this action will create an environment of healing for both survivors and our entire diocesan community,” said John M. Quinn, Bishop of the Diocese of Winona-Rochester. “Healing and justice for the survivors is our number one priority and I recognize this is a much-needed step as we create a path forward to reconciliation,” explained Quinn.

The Diocese of Winona-Rochester is currently facing 121 claims of child sexual abuse by clergy that have resulted from claims filed under the Minnesota Child Victims Act. The Act temporarily lifted the statute of limitations on past claims of child sexual abuse for a three-year period that ended in 2016. These pending claims of abuse occurred from 1960 up until 1986. All clergy against whom accusations have been previously made are either deceased or have been removed from ministry, laicized, and no longer function in any priestly capacity in the Diocese.

No staff members will lose their jobs and no parishes or schools will close during this bankruptcy process. The parishes and schools within the Diocese are separate legal corporations and are not filing for bankruptcy.

“For more than 15 years, the Diocese of Winona-Rochester has been proactive in taking steps to keep our youth and vulnerable adults safe from sexually abusive situations and remains vigilant in these actions,” added Quinn.

In 2002, the Diocese instituted the Safe Environment Program which has as its mission keeping all diocesan children and young people safe in schools, parishes, religious education classes, and other programs. Annual audits of the Office of Safe Environment Program has found it to be compliant with the mandatory offering of the ‘Circle of Grace’ program.

 Steps taken by this Diocesan Program include:

  • More than 30,500 mandatory criminal background checks on all clergy, staff, and
  • Training for more than 107 VIRTUS® Facilitators throughout the diocese to teach
    the VIRTUS® ‘Protecting God’s Children for Adults Program’.
  • Training of more than 11,900 people on the VIRTUS® program.
  • Presentation of the ‘Circle of Grace’ safe environment education program to more
    than 10,500 children in parishes and Catholic schools during the 2017/2018 fiscal year.
  • Requiring all clergy in the Diocese to be mandatory reporters.
  • The Diocese also employs a Victims Assistance Coordinator who provides counseling to those who have experienced abuse.

The Diocese of Winona-Rochester does not know how long bankruptcy will take but will share periodic updates throughout the process. More information on the reorganization can be found here.

About the Diocese of Winona-Rochester

The Diocese of Winona-Rochester encompasses nearly 13,000 square miles of the southern 20 counties of Minnesota, serving a population of more than 131,000 Catholics across 107 parishes/missions.