Judge approves $40M settlement with Minnesota diocese

Judge approves $40M settlement with Minnesota diocese
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A federal judge on Monday approved an almost $40 million settlement between the Diocese of Duluth, Minn., and the dozens of people who say they were victims of abuse by priests when they were young. 

Judge Robert Kressel agreed to the settlement in U.S. Bankruptcy Court after the diocese filed for bankruptcy in 2015, according to a release from the diocese. The diocese and the victims agreed on the settlement in May, The Associated Press reported.

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Our first thoughts today are with the innocent people who suffered abuse,” Duluth Bishop Paul Sirba said in the statement from the diocese. “While no financial settlement can make up for the harm that was done to them, it can be a form of accountability for the ways the church failed them, and a sign of our solidarity with them and our deep sorrow for what they have suffered.”

The diocese, its parishes and other Catholic “entities” will contribute $10 million to the settlement, and the rest will come from insurance, according to the release. The diocese spans 10 counties of Minnesota with 72 parishes.

The settlement also requires the diocese to allow access to files on more than three dozen credibly accused priests and create methods to make sure future children will be safe, according to the AP.

Attorney Jeff Anderson, who represented some 120 claimants, told the AP that the agreement “can and does make this community safer and better.”

Mike Finnegan, an attorney with Jeff Anderson & Associates, said the diocese was "forced to make a pledge" to release the documents.
 
"Today was a day where the survivors stood up in court and had their voices acknowledged," he said.