Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
On June 15, our diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. This followed our announcement about a month ago that the diocese and survivors of clergy sexual abuse reached an agreement on a framework to resolve all clergy abuse claims against the diocese and area parishes.
In the bankruptcy, this framework will include a consensual plan of reorganization that provides for a $22.5 million trust to compensate survivors. The funds are coming from insurance and benefits coverage settlements, cash and property contributions from the diocese and contributions from parishes. The funds will be administered by an independent trustee appointed by the bankruptcy court with input from a committee representing the survivors.
This reorganization process represents my commitment to finding a fair resolution for survivors while ensuring that our diocesan ministries are able to continue to serve our people. I’m grateful to the survivors for their courage in coming forward, and I apologize again on behalf of the Church for the harm they suffered. I remain committed to assist in their healing, and I believe this is another important step in that direction.
I’m also thankful for your prayers, your support and for all you do to ensure safe environments in our parishes and Catholic schools. As the Body of Christ united together, I know we can be powerful witnesses of justice, hope and healing during this significant time in the history of our diocese.
I will keep you updated about the reorganization process as we move forward. You will be able to find information on the bankruptcy court’s website, https://www.mnb.uscourts.gov. We also have set up a reorganization webpage at www.stcdio.org/reorganization. This page includes reorganization-related public statements, legal documents and frequently asked questions.
Please know that any gifts you make during this time to our diocesan ministries through the Bishop’s Annual Appeal will only be used in ways that serve the people, parishes and schools of our diocese and not for anything related to the bankruptcy reorganization.
Prayer, education, action are key to anti-racism efforts
The horrible killing of George Floyd has spurred our nation to address the prejudice and racial discrimination that still persists in our society. Racism is a sin, whether it lurks in our hearts or in our institutions. Sadly, racial disparities exist in many sectors of society: housing, employment, education and the criminal justice systems. These disparities cause great suffering for people of color and are an affront to their God-given dignity. We are all made in the image of God. We are all his children — no matter the color of our skin — infused with a divine dignity that must be respected.
Many people are rightly asking the question: “What can I do?” The answer isn’t simple. Real change requires a determined, long-term commitment.
• Education is key. We must overcome any biases we harbor. We also must listen to the stories of others to truly understand the complex history and reality of racism in our nation. Additionally, we must be advocates for systemic change, promoting positive reforms in our civic and social institutions. I encourage you to study the U.S. bishops’ pastoral letter against racism: “Open Wide Our Hearts: The Enduring Call to Love.” You can access it at: https://bit.ly/2XXJEwW.
• Stand in solidarity with those who experience the impact of prejudice and discrimination. Call out racial comments or injustices when you see them. Organize or attend a prayer service or study opportunity.
• Prayer is essential. Prayer allows us to bring our needs before God. It unites us together as the Body of Christ. Please join me in praying for peace, healing and the conversion of hearts to end the injustices present in our society.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
+Donald J. Kettler
Bishop Donald J. Kettler is the ninth bishop of the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota.