Q: What is happening?
A: On March 3, 2017, the Diocese of New Ulm filed for financial reorganization under Chapter 11 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code in United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Minnesota. This filling allows the Diocese to reorganize its finances and establish a plan to pay its creditors, who are victims and survivors of sexual abuse as minors by clergy, while continuing its operations.
The bottom-line: reorganization provides the Diocese with a neutral process to fairly and permanently resolve claims with victims and survivors while continuing to carry out the mission of the Church. Please see Bishop LeVoir’s video announcement on the home page of HopeHealingandPeace-DNU.org.
Q: Why is the Diocese filing now?
A: The Diocese and some parishes within the geographic area it serves are facing a total of 101 lawsuits resulting from claims filed under the Minnesota Child Victims Act. After prayerful and careful review, the Diocese determined that filing for reorganization was the best way to fairly resolve those claims. The Diocese of New Ulm is the third diocese in Minnesota to file for reorganization following the enactment of the Minnesota Child Victims Act, which temporarily lifted the civil statute of limitations on historical childhood sexual abuse claims for a three-year period which ended on May 25, 2016.
Q: What does this filing mean for victims and survivors of sexual abuse as minors by clergy in the Diocese of New Ulm?
A: Reorganization under Chapter 11 means the court will supervise a process to fairly resolve claims with victims and survivors and provide equitable compensation.
Q: What does this filing mean for my parish or Catholic school?
A: Parishes, Catholic schools, and other Catholic organizations located in the geographic area the Diocese serves are not included in the diocesan filing. Parishes and other Catholic organizations are separately incorporated under Minnesota law.
Q: With what assets will the Diocese pay creditors?
A: The Diocese of New Ulm is listing all of its assets in documents to be filed with the court. You can see a listing of diocesan assets in this document. Those assets include real estate and other property that belongs to the diocesan corporation. The Diocese is also working with its insurers to resolve the claims.
Q: What about my donations to the Diocesan Ministries Appeal, will that money go to settle claims?
A: As stated in the Diocesan Ministries Appeal (DMA) materials, donations to the DMA are restricted gifts to be used in support of the specifically designated ministries only. The Diocese has every expectation that donations will be used as designated.
Q: How will this filing affect ministry in the Diocese of New Ulm?
A: We do not expect that this filing will affect core diocesan ministry. We expect that operations will continue without interruption as we work toward resolution.
Q: Has the Diocese issued a public apology to victims and survivors?
A: Yes. On behalf of the Diocese of New Ulm, Bishop John LeVoir has apologized publicly to victims and survivors and continues to do so both publicly and privately. Please see Bishop LeVoir’s video message, Hope, Healing, and Peace at ProtectandHeal-DNU.org.
Q: If someone was sexually abused as a minor and has not yet come forward, what should he or she do?
A: If someone was sexually abused as a minor by anyone involved in Church ministry in the Diocese of New Ulm, they should immediately report such abuse to local law enforcement, regardless of when the abuse occurred. You can see contact information on the diocesan website for county law enforcement and social service agencies. This information is at dnu.org/report-abuse.
Victims and survivors of sexual abuse by clergy are also encouraged to contact the diocesan Victim Assistance Coordinator at 1421 6th Street North, New Ulm, MN 56073, or by phone at 507-233-5313, for counseling or other assistance in healing.
In addition, people wishing to file a claim against the Diocese of New Ulm must file a claim by July 10, 2017. Please see the two documents: NOTICE OF THE TIME FOR TIMELY FILING PROOFS OF CLAIMS RELATING TO, OR ARISING FROM, SEXUAL ABSUSE and SEXUAL ABUSE PROOF OF CLAIM FORM for more information. If you have questions regarding whether to file a proof of claim or how to complete the proof of claim form, please contact a qualified attorney.
Q: What if I have additional questions?
A: Please call the diocesan Office of Communications at (507) 233-5332.