Support Group Asks Archdiocese to Open Personnel and Financial Files [Minnesota]
February 28, 2003

ST. PAUL (AP) - The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis on Friday rejected a claim by a church abuse survivors group that the archdiocese underestimated its costs in handling priest abuse cases.

The archdiocese said last week that it spent more than $3 million in expenses related to such claims. The Minnesota chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests contested that figure on Thursday, saying the actual figure is $8.8 million.

On Friday, archdiocese spokesman Dennis McGrath said the church took pains to detail its costs, and noted that its summary also mentioned insurers have paid about $5 million in settlements, legal fees and related costs in the past 20 years.

McGrath said MNSNAP is incorrect to include the insurance payouts because the archdiocese's expense was limited to premiums, and that cost was included in the $3 million-plus estimate.

"Very few dioceses have gone to this kind of disclosure," McGrath said. "There really isn't anything more to disclose."

MNSNAP contested the financial costs in a letter to Archbishop Harry Flynn. In the same letter, the group requested that the archdiocese open personnel and financial records for public scrutiny and appoint victims of abuse to its clergy review board.

McGrath said the records would not be opened, in part because of data privacy concerns, but said the church was planning to add an abuse victim to its clergy review board. He didn't know how soon that would happen.

MNSNAP also criticized the archdiocese for "raiding" a trust fund that paid priests benefits in order to settle some claims. McGrath said plenty of money remains in the fund, and said the archdiocese had actually doubled the size of priest pensions this year.

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