The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis released a detailed financial report for the first time Thursday -- a change of course from the simple financial summaries released in the past.
The archdiocese statements show $8,813,492 was spent in the past 10 years on sexual abuse settlements, victim counseling and support, legal services and living expenses for credibly-accused priests and those that were removed from ministry.
"We are doing this because we are accountable to the people we serve," Bishop Le Piche wrote in The Catholic Spirit newsletter.
Yet, the expense is a source of outrage for Catholics at the offering plate, and is one reason parishes are seeing their dollar amounts shrink. The Archdiocese, however, points out the nearly $9 million spent accounts for 2 percent of revenue.
Financial statements for the 2013 fiscal year show losses from unknown sexual abuse lawsuits "could be substantial," and "claims can go back to a time period in which insurance may not have been available or coverage limits were minimal."
ARCHDIOCESE STATEMENT: http://bit.ly/1aZ748H
FULL FINANCIAL REPORT: http://bit.ly/1aZ748H
To cover future settlements, the archdiocese reserved money that contributed to a $3.9 million deficit in the last fiscal year. Despite those losses, the archdiocese believes its financial footing remains solid.
"The release of our full audited financial report, as well as additional information to explain particular points of interest, is part of our ongoing commitment to improve transparency and accountability, evidenced not only in our ongoing disclosure of clergy with credible claims of abuse of minors, but also through our commitment to improved financial reporting," Piche wrote. "We are taking these steps because they are the right thing to do -- because they help us to protect the young and vulnerable, care for victims of abuse, and restore trust among the laity, as well as our clergy who are serving honorably."
The report also shows that assets are growing in the archdiocese, with its cash reserves up $3 million since last year. Since that sum is likely needed for future abuse claims, questions about whether bankruptcy is possible are lingering as other cases loom.
"The Archdiocese of Minneapolis admits to having spent $8.8 million over the past decade on costs related to clergy misconduct. We suspect this is misleading. We suspect the real figure is significantly higher," said a statement from Frank Meuers of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). "And we suspect Catholic officials are using these figures to begin convincing people that they're poor so they can pressure victims to file fewer lawsuits and settle those cases more quickly and cheaply."