SANTA-FE, NM – One of the oldest Catholic dioceses in the United States announced on Tuesday an agreement to settle a bankruptcy case in New Mexico as a result of a scandal involving sexual violence in the clergy.
The preliminary deal is $ 121.5 million and will involve about 375 bidders.
The proposed settlement comes at a time when the Catholic Church continues to fight the scandal of sexual violence and concealment that has engulfed the entire globe. Some of the allegations in New Mexico date back decades.
The chairman of the creditors’ committee, which negotiated the agreement on behalf of the survivors and others, said it would bring the Archdiocese of Santa Fe to justice for the abuse and lead to one of the diocese’s largest contributions to the bankruptcy agreement in U.S. history.
It also includes a non-monetary agreement with the archdiocese to establish a public archive of documents relating to the history of allegations of sexual abuse, said committee chairman Charles Paes.
“The perseverance and courage of New Mexico survivors has allowed us to reach a recommended settlement that meets the needs of survivors in a timely manner,” he said in a statement Tuesday.
In 2018, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe filed for bankruptcy under Chapter 11, seeking protection from creditors.
The settlement has yet to be approved by victims of abuse. It includes funds from sales or property and other assets, income contributions and insurance income. Lawyers on both sides said it did not include settling claims against religious orders.
“The church takes its responsibility very seriously to ensure that survivors of sexual violence receive fair compensation for the suffering they have endured,” Santa Fe Archbishop John K. Wester said Tuesday.
“We hope that this settlement will be the next step in the healing of those affected,” he said.
In New Mexico, the archdiocese, which covers central and northern New Mexico, has recognized about 74 priests “reliably accused” of sexual abuse of children.
The Archdiocese of Santa Fe, established in the 1850s after the Mexican-American War, applied for a reorganization in late 2018 to cope with the surge in claims. It is estimated that $ 52 million was paid to victims in extrajudicial hearings in previous years.
“No amount of money can alleviate the pain and trauma our clients and their families have suffered,” Dan Facy, a lawyer who represented some of the victims, said Tuesday. “But we hope that this settlement can bring some form of closure and healing to the survivors of the violence we were honored to represent.”
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