Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Love and Sex Campaign 2015 . . .




Pope Francis has asked lay people around the world to share their experiences on the Church's teachings and practices regarding sexuality, marriage, and family. This information is meant to help the bishops as they grapple with these complicated issues at the Synod on the Family in Rome this coming October 2015. Each of our experiences matters to help the total picture emerge. Now is the time to Claim Our Voices and take the following action steps.


Survey 1: Deadline March 10

Has your pastor or parish staff urged you to go to the Archdiocesan website to tell the hierarchs how they can be more supportive of healthy family life? The Archdiocesan website links to a survey provided by the Vatican. It can be accessed directly by clicking here.

Don't be put off by the difficult wording of the questions. Simply find a few questions that mention topics which you have concerns about. Write whatever message you want the bishops to hear. We have been assured that all submissions will be accepted even if they don't exactly answer the question or if most of the questions are not answered at all.

Survey 2: Deadline April 15

After you have done that survey, click here for an easier survey we urge you to take too. It is sponsored by Catholic Church Reform International (CCRI) and this data will get to the bishops of the Synod also.


CCCR/Council of the Baptized is asking what we can do in our own local church, this Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, to promote healthy psycho-social development in families. First, how big is the problem? Can you relate some stories about the issues of contraception, divorce and remarriage, same-gender relationships, living together before marriage--issues to be studied by the bishops. Write your story to post on the CCCR website. Post it here.

Listening Sessions

Host a Listening Session in your home or parish. You invite the people, and CCCR will provide the program and facilitator. All concerns raised will be included in a report going to our archbishop, the papal nuncio, the pope, and all the US bishops attending the Synod in Rome.

Contact Mary Beth Stein marybsaint@hotmail.com 612-805-7091.

Position Paper

Council of the Baptized has published a position paper on this topic entitled: Toward a Healthy Christian Theology of Sexuality. Get a handle on the issues by reading this paper. Just click on the title. You may print and distribute it as you see fit.

What you can do: Invite some friends or fellow parishioners to talk about the position paper. Click here for two pages of suggested topics and questions that could guide small group study related to this document and topic.

Printable Summary of Actions

Click here.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Save the Date!

The League of Catholic Women
invites you to

Many Places at the Table:
The Contemporary Roman Catholic Church in the USA


Fr. Michael Joncas

Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Gather at 6:45 p.m.
Program begins promptly at 7:00 p.m.

The Woman's Club
410 Oak Grove St.
Minneapolis (south of Loring Park)
Free parking in adjacent lot
and in the lot across the street.

Cost: $15.00
Reservation checks due by February 20 to
League of Catholic Women
410 Oak Grove St.
Minneapolis, MN 55403

$20 for walk-ins on the day.

Fr. Joncas' presentation will address a number of important issues, questions and themes, including:

• What are the major national and international church events that help shape the different faith styles of contemporary Catholics?

• What are the central loyalties of each group?

• What are the obstacles to, and the opportunities for, conversations within and across the boundaries surrounding these different understandings of our shared Catholic faith?

• When we recite the Nicene Creed we profess our belief in "one catholic church." We should come away from this evening with a deeper understanding of just what that means in today's world.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Quote of the Day

[San Francisco's Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone] constantly refers to confusion about church teaching about sexuality . . . implying that if we just understood the teaching, everything would be fine. But there is no confusion about contraception and, increasingly, same-sex civil marriage. There is strong, thoughtful, conscience-driven opposition. He also uses the words "timeless church teachings" and conveniently forgets how the church was wrong on Galileo and slavery and ignores that the "timeless church teaching" on same-sex adoptive parents was written in 2003.

Cordileone suggests that he is in line with Pope Francis. In one way, he may be correct: It doesn't appear that Francis is going to be changing any doctrine in the near future. But the whole world knows we have a pope who is focusing on Jesus' message of love and inclusiveness and who has told Cordileone and his fellow culture warrior bishops to quit being obsessed with the sexuality issues. Our archbishop doesn't even appear to be listening to his boss.

– Brian Cahill
Excerpted from "Cordileone's Continuing Controversy
in San Francisco Revolves Around Catholic Identity

National Catholic Reporter
February 13, 2015

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Catholic Reform Network Says Synod Questionnaire Was Designed to Fail . . . and is Failing

Note: The following is a media release from Catholic Church Reform Int'l.

Catholic Church Reform Int'l (CCRI) has written an Open Letter to Pope Francis telling him that the 46-question survey requiring all essay-type answers devised by the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops to gather feedback for the October 2015 Synod on the Family, is totally unworkable and not being promoted on most of the worldwide diocesan websites.

"We know it is an unworkable document," said Peter Wilkinson, CCRI coordinator from Australia, "because our research shows that, in the nine weeks it has been out there, few bishops and dioceses anywhere in the world are using it. The complex survey is not only doomed to fail, but sadly, appears to have been designed to fail."

"Not only will it not gather the voices of Catholic couples and families, but it will drive them away," said Rene Reid, CCRI co-founding director. "Whether it is intentional or not, this questionnaire is counterproductive, threatens to thwart the Pope's wishes, and could even endanger the effectiveness of the Synod itself."

Many bishops also want to hear the voices of Catholic couples and families, but now find themselves stymied by a Vatican tool unsuited to the task. It is overwhelming to even the most well-educated Catholic. Without the people's voices, those bishops elected to attend the October 2015 Assembly will have little to offer. "Pope Francis has made it clear that he does not want them turning up with formulations for pastoral care based simply on the application of doctrine or their own interpretation of what their people need," Virginia Saldanha, CCRI coordinator from India, pointed out. "That would defy the concluding directives of the October 2014 Assembly."

But the voices should not be only those of practicing Catholics. "Many Catholics no longer attend Mass," said Ms. Reid, "often precisely because of Church teachings, attitudes, and pastoral practices - the very issues that should be on the Synod's agenda. Pope Francis wants the bishops to find concrete solutions to the innumerable challenges that families face. The Lineamenta questionnaire not only shuts down the Faithful but completely leaves out those who are no longer practicing Catholics. If the Synod wants to 'look at the reality of the family today in all its complexities' as stated as its objective," said Ms. Reid, "there has to be a simplified, user-friendly means to gather the reflections of ordinary Catholics."

Catholic Church Reform Int'l, a network which spans 65 countries and shares Pope Francis's vision for a church engaged in a communal search of discernment, is now looking to develop an alternative survey, an uncomplicated living poll which, the CCRI letter explains "will be an invitation to all the baptized to share with the Synod their lived experience of marriage and family: 'How have their marriage and family life benefited from the teachings of the Church, or how has it caused difficulties or harm?' ...They will be asked for suggestions for change. 'If you were once a participatory practicing Catholic but have left the Church, what caused you to leave, what would bring you back?'" Brendan Butler, CCRI coordinator from Ireland who is serving on the committee designing the poll said: "CCRI wants a survey instrument which will be a pastoral agent in itself, looking to support families still in the flock, those on the fringes who will leave if some reform is not forthcoming, and looking to show welcome to those who've strayed or felt driven away."

"Too long have we lay Faithful colluded in silence out of a mistaken sense of respect," said Robert Blair Kaiser, CCRI co-founder and author. "We need to be speaking out, reminding bishops of the need to respond to families in the context of a complex and changing environment. If the Church is to be a credible instrument of the Gospel, it must instigate structural change in the way it operates. One key element of that is ensuring that all the baptized have a proper say in the governance of the Church."

To read the full letter to Pope Francis, click here.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Quote of the Day

[Pope Francis] has gotten rave reviews for his supposedly progressive views, although it may be only that he seems progressive when compared to Pope Benedict XVI, the pope whose philosophy, at times, sounded like the pastoral version of “Get off my lawn.” . . . [Francis has] said that evolution and “the notion of creation” were not “inconsistent”; urged the church to help the poor; and asked, “Who am I to judge?” on the issue of gay priests. . . . Yet it’s worth remembering that Francis has not actually changed any church doctrine on these issues. And he hasn’t done a thing to walk back Benedict’s egregious comments on transgender people, which suggested that in living our lives openly, we somehow make human dignity “disappear.” Then, this week, Francis praised Slovakian pilgrims for defending the family, in a quote that appeared to give support to a referendum in their country scheduled for today that could ban marriage and adoption for same-sex and transgender couples. Thanks to attitudes like this, the Roman Catholic Church has spent years driving away the faithful.

. . . [F]rancis’ words over the last year have given many Catholics, current and lapsed, reason for hope. But we are still waiting to see those hopes turned into action.

– Jennifer Finney Boylan
Excerpted from "Can the Church Return to the Faithful"
The New York Times
February 6, 2015

See also the previous PCV posts:
Pope Francis and the Catholic Crisis
Pope Francis' Woman Problem
Pope Francis is Listening
Tony Flannery in Minneapolis
Creating a Liberating Church (Part 1)
Creating a Liberating Church (Part 2)
Creating a Liberating Church (Part 3)

Related Off-site Links:
The Trouble With Francis: Three Things That Worry Me – Mary E. Hunt (Religion Dispatches, January 6, 2014).
Pope Francis Might Not Be As Awesome As We Thought He Was – Asher Bayot (Inquisitr.com, January 18, 2015).

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Still Dialoguing with the Archbishop: The Catechism?

By Paula Ruddy

At CCCR’s meeting with Archbishop John C. Nienstedt on January 20, the Archbishop mentioned that one of the valuable results of Vatican II was the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He didn’t elaborate.

At the word “catechism” a dark cloud enveloped my liberal soul. In a good faith effort to be open-minded here, I have to ask why I have that reaction.

I remember loving the Baltimore Catechism as a child in the 1940’s. It was a little blue book with questions and answers. The second question and answer I still love: “ Where is God? God is everywhere.” We memorized the questions and answers for catechism class at All Saints Parish in Lakeville, and we were called on, in fear and trembling, to answer questions at Confirmation. My mother and father could still spout the answers from their childhoods at St. Luke’s and St. Michael’s in St. Paul. There was open discussion on any and all questions, as I recall. In the hurly-burly of everyday life, the catechism questions and answers were tucked away on the hard drive of our minds for the most part, forming us somehow. They were articulated there if we needed them.

So why is an “adult” catechism such a problem to me now? I have a copy on my bookshelf. Can it be a comprehensive set of statements, most of which I value highly, without actually reducing Catholicism to a set of statements?

Is there a way to use the catechism to turn toward the world with the Gospel vision of the reign of God here and now, all of us evolving toward full union with God through conflict, suffering and joy, as in Jesus’ own life? Can the catechism support and enrich the Christian vision and help in the daily discernment of faithful living?

Help me out here. Am I the only one with a “catechism” attitude problem? What would the grown-up attitude be? If you use the catechism as a meditative reading, please tell us about it. Thanks.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Dear Pope Francis: Saving the World Requires Contraception

By Mark Seager
President, Population Connection Action Fund

Note: This commentary was first published February 1, 2015 by The World Post.

Don't get me wrong, Francis. You seem like a sincere, congenial man, and I admire you for bringing the world's attention to the need to address poverty, fight climate change, and eliminate inequality. But, sadly, your unwillingness to accept access to the full range of contraceptives as a necessary and moral good is completely incompatible with your efforts to make the world a better place.

You see, modern contraceptive methods – like the birth control pill, condom, and intrauterine device – do much more than provide people with a healthy sex life. Contraception saves lives, especially those of women and girls living in the developing world, who often don't have access to antenatal services. Mothers and babies die when women aren't able to delay, space, or avoid pregnancies. And young children whose mothers die in pregnancy or childbirth are more likely to die themselves.

Incredibly, if all women in the developing world who want to avoid pregnancy used modern contraception, the number of unintended pregnancies would drop by 70 percent and unsafe abortions would fall by 74 percent. The ability to plan one's family provides women and girls with more educational and job opportunities. And many economies would get a much-needed boost.

There is no doubt that universal access to contraception would bring us closer to achieving economic and gender equality in one fell swoop. Imagine that!

But, Francis, providing people with access to the full range of contraceptives is also crucial to combating climate change. If you're serious about engaging in this work, you simply must end your proscription of modern birth control.

Though the population-climate link is based on science, it's not rocket science. And your defense of the Church's ban on modern contraception – less than a week after you stated that "the majority" of climate change is caused by humans and after years of calling for climate action – is mind-boggling.

Modern-day contraceptives are extremely effective at preventing pregnancy when used correctly. And preventing unintended pregnancy helps to slow population growth – one of the leading causes of climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions.

According to a 2010 study, leveling the world population at 8 billion, instead of the projected 9 billion, by 2050 could provide 16 to 29 percent of the emissions reductions required to prevent dangerous climate change. It would have a much greater impact than if global deforestation were completely eliminated.

And while most of the world's climate pollution is being emitted from industrialized nations – namely, the United States – the fastest population growth is happening in developing countries – some of which, like Mexico and the Philippines, have a majority Catholic population. In fact, roughly 16 percent of the world population practices Catholicism, and the religion is growing fastest in Africa – the continent with the most rapid population growth.

Francis, that means nearly one-sixth (and growing) of the world population acknowledges your teachings. Nearly a sixth of the people on Earth have been told, by you, that it is a sin to use modern contraception. And all of them will contribute to and be affected by climate change.

Therefore, you have a responsibility to ensure that your followers have all the tools they need – including contraception – to reduce their carbon output and strengthen their resilience to the inevitable effects of climate change.

For many people around the world – especially women and girls living in poverty-stricken countries – having the ability to prevent unwanted pregnancies means they have a better chance at coping with extreme weather events. That's because families who are able to plan the birth of their children are likely to have more resources and, as a result, are more able to respond to changes in their environment.

Surely some of the families that you visited during your recent trip to the Philippines would have been better equipped to withstand the effects of super-typhoon Haiyan if they had access to contraceptives. It is largely due to the influence of the country's Catholic bishops that 90 percent of the unintended pregnancies – half of all pregnancies there – are the result of a lack of modern contraception.

Planning and preventing pregnancy is not only a personal choice; it's a human right that saves lives, combats poverty, and helps to close the inequality gap. But more than that it's a crucial requirement for slowing population growth and, in turn, saving the planet from its greatest threat – climate change.

The world is depending on you, Francis.

See also the previous PCV posts:
Overpopulation and the Catholic Church: Can't We Become Part of the Solution?
Contraception's Con Men
Birth Control, the Bishops, and Religious Authority
Out of Step With the Flock: Bishops Far Behind on Birth Control Issues
We Are the 98 Percent
Who Is the Church? And How Does the Church Discern Morality?

Related Off-site Links:
Bishops Don't Speak for Most Catholics on Contraception – Keith Soko (CNN, February 4, 2012).
Pope Francis Might Not Be As Awesome As We Thought He Was – Asher Bayot (Inquisitr.com, January 18, 2015).
The Trouble with Francis: Three Things That Worry Me – Mary E. Hunt (Religion Dispatches, January 6, 2014).

Friday, January 30, 2015

I'm a Catholic Feminist, and My Church Needs Me More Than Ever

By Kristina Keneally

Note: This op-ed was first published January 28, 2015 by The Guardian.

I recall standing in my grandmother’s kitchen with her yellow Bakelite phone to my ear, waiting on hold for a talkback radio program. I was eight years old, and my family was in another room listening to the Catholic Bishop of Toledo take questions from callers on the local AM station.

Finally it was my turn. “Bishop Donovan,” I said, “I’m in third grade. The priest at our school has come to our class to ask for boys to volunteer to be altar servers. Why can’t girls volunteer too?”

Poor Bishop Donovan. He mumbled something about church tradition and the importance of serving at mass as a first step towards priesthood – where, again, one obviously had to be male – and moved on to the next caller.

Unsatisfactory, I thought. And my career as a Catholic feminist began.

38 years later, I’m still a Catholic and a feminist. I’ve got a degree in religious studies, specialising in feminist theology, and while girls can be altar servers now (take that, Bishop Donovan), we’ve still got a long way to go, baby.

Pope Francis’s recent comment that Catholics need not “breed like rabbits,” while insisting that artificial contraception is still banned, left many shaking their heads. Here was yet another example of the all-male Catholic hierarchy completely failing to understand what it is like to be a woman, or to live in a family, or to exercise control over fertility.

The Catholic church so overtly and fully excludes women from certain jobs and seeks to deny them certain rights that some dismiss the idea that a true feminist can profess the Catholic faith. Yet this is precisely why the Catholic church needs feminists.

The idea that one can’t be a Catholic and a feminist usually starts with a misunderstanding of what it is to be Catholic. In strict technical terms, a Catholic is someone who believes in those things listed in the Apostles Creed and the Nicene Creed: God, the creator of heaven and earth; Jesus Christ, the son of God who was crucified, died and resurrected; the Holy Spirit; the holy Catholic church (that is, the entire community of those who believe in Jesus Christ); the communion of saints; the forgiveness of sins; the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.

That’s it. No mention in our creeds of artificial contraception, an all-male priesthood, denying communion to divorced people or excluding homosexuals. It’s not particularly surprising – not one of the four Gospels records Jesus passing significant comments on such matters.

Everything in the Catholic church after Jesus’s death and resurrection represents human attempts to interpret and apply the teachings of Christ to our circumstances. Because men fairly exclusively ran the world until very recently, it has been fairly exclusively men in the Catholic church who’ve done the interpreting and applying. Not overly surprising, then, that the result is a set of teachings and rules that exclude and oppress women.

A Catholic feminist insists that women’s experience is just as valid as men’s when it comes to understanding the nature of God, the teachings of Christ, the movement of the Holy Spirit and how we are to live as Christians in the world today.

OK, I hear you saying, but how can a Catholic disagree with the church? Don’t you Catholics believe the (male) pope is infallible? Aren’t you required to follow what the (exclusively male) bishops say?

There’s no simple answer to that question, but the short answer is no. First of all, papal infallibility (and its related concept, the infallibility of the church) is not what people often think it is. The pope is not infallible in every utterance he makes. In fact, he only very occasionally speaks infallibly, and when he does it is specifically noted. For example, the Assumption of Mary (into heaven) is an infallible teaching. The ban on artificial contraception is not.

Secondly, a Catholic has an obligation to follow her fully-formed conscience, even if it brings her into conflict with church teaching. A fully-formed conscience consults not only scripture and church teaching but also the sciences and human experience.

Conscience is a crucially important aspect of Catholic teaching and was given great emphasis in Vatican II, the reforming and modernising council that took place between 1962-65. Conservative popes – such as John Paul II – have sought to redefine conscience in order to discourage debate and dissent, but the role of a fully-formed conscience in the life of Catholics is significant and cannot be extinguished.

A Catholic feminist is a bit like a conscientious objector. She loves what sits at the heart of her faith, and fights what she cannot, in good conscience, accept in her church.

Sometimes people ask me why I don’t just leave such an anachronistic institution and join a Christian church where women can have a say, serve as ordained minsters and formally contribute to theological and moral teachings. Sometimes I ask myself the same question. It’s not easy being a Catholic feminist – sometimes it is downright infuriating – but I love the sacraments and the liturgy of the Catholic church, and I love the value it places on scripture and tradition. Why should I abandon my expression of faith to the all-male hierarchy? Why not stay and advocate for a more inclusive church, better theology, and teachings more reflective of the lived experience of women?

I’m no saint, but when I am most exasperated with the church, I recall that among the communion of saints are hundreds of examples of people who openly disagreed with the church hierarchy. Think of Mary MacKillop – excommunicated at one point – now elevated to sainthood by the same institution that threw her out.

Agitators for change are part of the Catholic church’s rich history: Catholic feminists follow in that tradition.

Related Off-site Links:
Altar Server Scandal is Reminder of How Far the Catholic Church Has to Go with Women – Lydia O'Connor (The Huffington Post, January 30, 2015).
Vatican Hits Sour Note with Women, But Progress May Come – Nicole Winfield (Associated Press via Yahoo! News, January 31, 2015).
Pope Francis, Women, and the Band of Brothers: The Ambiguity of the Jesuit Heritage That's Being Ignored by Commentators on Francis as Reformer – William D. Lindsey (Bilgrimage, January 31, 2015).

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Dialoguing with the Archbishop: Unity With or Without Diversity

By Paula Ruddy

Archbishop John Nienstedt met with a delegation from CCCR and Council of the Baptized on January 20 in a conference room at the Chancery Office in St. Paul. The delegates were Bob Beutel, co-chair of the CCCR Board, Mary Beth Stein, co-chair of Council of the Baptized, and I, a member of the CCCR Board. The Archbishop had invited Bishop Andrew Cozzens and Father Erich Rutten to join us.

Archbishop Nienstedt was cordial, gave us an hour of his time, and accepted the agenda we proposed. He led us in prayer to start the meeting. The agenda was 1) to explain the mission of CCCR and Council of the Baptized, 2) to explore how we could work together to comply with Pope Francis’s request for lay input for the Synod on the Family to take place in Rome in October 2015, and 3) we also wanted to know generally how we could work together to make our archdiocese a growth supportive community for all.

The Archbishop listened carefully while Bob explained the mission and activities of our joint organizations. When Bob had finished, the Archbishop asked this question: How do you think of yourselves as a Catholic organization when some of the member organizations of the coalition have opted out of the Roman Catholic Church?

Good question. We all talked about it in the spontaneous way that semi-formal conversation happens. I don’t have a transcript, but I had the perception that we reached some understanding with the Archbishop. He said he understood us more clearly and we went on to the next item on the agenda.

The question is an important one for CCCR and Council of the Baptized. How do we think of ourselves as Catholic when people are all over the board on Catholic teaching? Our policy, we explained to the Archbishop, has been to accept anyone who self-identifies as Catholic, and, at the same time, keep all the questions open for discussion, on the assumption that discussion is the way for people to grow toward truth in their thinking.

Is CCCR/Council of the Baptized justified in its policy of inclusion?

The question gets muddled up with the ideas of subjectivity and objectivity. Is being Catholic about being under the canonical jurisdiction of a bishop? That would be objective. Is it about identifying yourself as a Catholic? That would be subjective. Is it about having had water poured over your head with the right words as a baby and having been registered in a Catholic parish? Is it about giving internal assent (subjective) to statements in a catechism (objective)? Is it about getting yourself physically to Mass every Sunday and obeying the laws of the church (objective)? Can it be completely subjective with no external observance? Can it be completely objective with no internal assent?

Let’s say it is about both/and. Some objective observance and some internal assent. To draw lines we have to identify the essential objective observances and the essential subjection requirements. Has that been done? How are they tested? By whom? Is the person making the objective judgment using any subjectivity? Is determining who is in and who is out part of the mission of the church?

Is CCCR/Council of the Baptized justified in trusting the Holy Spirit to work within a whole community of self-identifying Catholics who are all across the board in their thinking and in their observance and yet somehow drawn to grow within this community? Does Jesus’s point about letting the weeds grow with the wheat have relevance? Or his caution not to snuff out the smoldering wick?

Or is it better to draw lines for being either in or out and to provide programming in standard thinking and practice to support the people who are in? In a fragmented world with so many influences working against the Christian faith, is it necessary to get clear on some formulations of truth and zero in on a faith formation?

Choosing between these two modes of operating—inclusion or exclusion—is necessary to run a coherent program. So it is a fundamental question. What do you think?

Friday, January 16, 2015

St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese Declares Bankruptcy in Response to Abuse Lawsuits

By Jean Hopfensperger

Note: The following is an excerpt from an article first published January 16, 2015 by the Star Tribune.

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Friday, saying it cannot meet its financial obligations from an unprecedented wave of clergy sex abuse lawsuits.

The move freezes lawsuits against the church, protecting the archdiocese from creditors while allowing it to develop a reorganization plan.

“I make this decision because I believe it is the fairest and most helpful recourse for those victims/survivors who have made claims against us,” wrote Archbishop John Nienstedt on the archdiocese’s website Friday morning.

“Reorganization will allow the finite resources of the Archdiocese to be distributed equitably among all victims/ survivors. It will also permit the Archdiocese to provide essential services required to continue its mission within this 12-county district.”

Archdiocese officials have said such a move was a financial necessity, as it faced more than 20 lawsuits from people who charge they were sexually abused by priests. More than 100 other lawsuits are pending.

Church officials have scheduled a news conference for 2 p.m. Friday.

The bankruptcy filing does not provide precise figures on archdiocese finances. It showed estimated liabilities of $50 to $100 million, estimated assets of $10 to $50 million, and estimated creditors of 200 to 999.

All of the top 20 creditors listed in the filing are representatives of victims of clergy sex abuse, which is typical of church bankruptcy filings nationally.

Jeff Anderson, the St. Paul attorney handling most of the clergy sex abuse cases, said in a news conference Friday, “It is our belief that the action taken today is necessary.”

“We will do this in a way like it’s never been done before, and not fight and get involved in contention … but in the spirit of cooperation … and healing.”

Victim’s advocates charge that the move is one more example of the archdiocese shirking its responsibility to abuse victims.

“Why is it that when all the dioceses file bankruptcy, they do it on the eve of a trial?” asked Bob Schwiderski, longtime advocate for abuse survivors. “Is it because they can’t put their hand on the Bible and swear to tell the truth?”

Schwiderski was referring to three clergy abuse trials slated for Jan. 26, that will now be halted.

All cases and claims will be reorganized in bankruptcy court, Anderson said

“The good news is that the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has insurance and it has a lot of it,” he said.

“We and the archdiocese in the last weeks and months have tried to bring the insurance companies to the table,” Anderson said.

However, he said that has not succeeded. In November, it sued 20 insurance companies in federal court seeking to force them “to cover the type of injuries” suffered by the clergy abuse claimants.

Anderson said he thinks the archdiocese will prevail in the end.

The move is not expected to affect the roughly 200 Catholics parishes or Catholic schools, which are incorporated separately from the chancery.

Related Off-site Links:
Archdiocese Files for Bankruptcy Amid Abuse Claim Worries – Martin Moylan and Madeleine Baran (Minnesota Public Radio News, January 16, 2015).
St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese Files for Bankruptcy – Amy Forliti (Associated Press via Crux, January 16, 2015).