WINONA, Minn. (FOX 47) – The Catholic Diocese of Winona-Rochester is talking about plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy by the end of November.
The diocese faces 121 claims of clergy sex abuse involving 14 priests accused of sexual misconduct with children. The alleged abuse took place from the 1960s through the 1980s.
Eleven of the priests served in Rochester parishes. All of the accused are either dead or have since been suspended from the ministry.
Congregations were notified of the bankruptcy plan on Sunday.
“It allows us to continue the operations of the diocese, to do the good things we are doing as a church,” says Bishop John Quinn. “But also then to take the assets that the church has and be able to work toward an equitable distribution of those assets and insurance premiums. So that the victims can be given an equitable settlement.”
WORKING WITH CHILDREN
The Diocese also talked about what it does to determine if someone is fit to work with children.
Bishop Quinn says, “Some of it is background checks. Any person that’s going to have any contact with young people or vulnerable adults, we go through a screening process where we look into their background to see if there’s any concerns, what maybe is called today red flags. Is there something that tells us this is a person that perhaps should not be given a role where they’re interacting with the young?”
“We do an annual audit. All of the parishes and schools are responsible for turning an audit in to me,” says Mary Hamann, the Diocese’s Office of Safe Environment Program Director. “And this audit tells me – lists all of their employees, all of their volunteers, the date of their background check.”
The diocese also has a training program called Virtus for adults working in the church.
It’s hoped these safeguards make sure there are no other victims.