Q: Why is the Diocese of Winona-Rochester filing for bankruptcy?
The Diocese of Winona-Rochester is facing 121 pending claims of past child sexual abuse by clergy that have resulted from claims filed under the Minnesota Child Victims Act.
In order to create an environment of healing for both survivors and our entire diocesan community, Bishop Quinn after consultation with the College of Consultors, the Diocesan Finance Council, the Presbyteral Council and the Trustees of the Diocesan Civil Corporation Board has called for the Diocese to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Bishop Quinn believes this is the most just and equitable way to hold the Diocese accountable and to create a path forward for survivors and our diocesan community.
Q: When did the abuse in these pending claims occur?
A: 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.
Q: Are the priest’s names public?
Yes, the Diocese of Winona-Rochester has made the names public of all clergy facing claims of child sexual abuse. Their names can be viewed here.
Q: Will any parishes or schools close during this process?
A: No, the parishes and schools within the Diocese are separate legal corporations and are not filing for bankruptcy.
Q: Will any diocese, parish or school employees lose their jobs?
A: No, the filling will not impact the employees in our diocese, parishes, and schools. The day to day operations of our diocese, parishes, and schools will not change. There will be no changes to employee benefits, including retirement plans.
Q: Is my child safe and protected from sexual abuse by clergy or school staff?
A: Yes. Beginning in 2002, the Diocese instituted the Safe Environment program that implements mandatory criminal background checks for all clergy, employees, and volunteers; and anyone associated with a school in any capacity is included in this mandatory background checking. To date, we have run 30,500 criminal background checks.
This program also provides training in recognizing and reporting child abuse to appropriate civil and Church authorities. The Diocese of Winona-Rochester is dedicated to holding all members of the clergy, employees, and volunteers who work with children and young people to Christ-centered and professional codes of conduct.
The Diocese also employs a Victims Assistance Coordinator who provides counseling to those who have experienced abuse or have been impacted by abuse because of something that has happened to a family member or friend. You can contact our Victim Assistance Coordinator, Kelly Noser, at 507-454-2270 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can read more about our Safe Environment program here.
Q: How will survivors be compensated?
A: Survivors will be compensated through a combination of insurance, Diocesan savings, the sale of Diocesan assets and other sources. The amount of compensation for survivors is unknown at this time.
Q. Will donations to parishes or schools be used to pay survivors?
A. Parish and school assets and budgets are held separately from the Diocese. This will not change during the bankruptcy process.
Q. Will parishes and schools face legal action for past abuse?
A: No. A channeling injunction will be included in the bankruptcy filing which protects all parishes and schools against future sex abuse claims. Any claim or lawsuit filed against a parish as part of the bankruptcy is resolved in the agreement.
Q: When will this bankruptcy process be completed?
A: We do not know when this process will conclude.
Q: What will the Diocese look like after the bankruptcy process?
A: There is no way to predict what the reorganization that results from the bankruptcy process will look like and it would be inappropriate and non-productive to speculate. However, it is important to remember that our Diocese operates within our budget and that may lessen the final impact.