Minnesota Catholic archdiocese files for bankruptcy protection
Photo of a Catholic priest (AFP)

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis filed for bankruptcy protection on Friday, saying that it will allow its finite resources to be distributed among victims and survivors of child sex abuse by clergy.

The archdiocese, which has been criticized for its past handling of clergy abuse cases, is the 12th Catholic diocese to seek bankruptcy protection under sex abuse claims, according to Bishopaccountability.org, which tracks abuse cases.

"I make this decision because I believe it is the fairest and most helpful recourse for those victims/survivors who have made claims against us," Archbishop John Nienstedt said in a statement on the archdiocese's website.

The filing does not includes parishes or schools and will allow the archdiocese to provide essential services, he said.

The archdiocese has faced numerous lawsuits raising claims of child sex abuse by clergy and Minnesota in 2013 approved a law that gave plaintiffs until May 2016 to file old claims that would otherwise be barred by the statute of limitations.

The archdiocese raised bankruptcy as a possible option in October when it announced the settlement of a civil lawsuit that had forced officials to release decades of files on clergy accused of child sex abuse.

(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis and Brendan O'Brien in Milwaukee; Editing by Chris Reese)