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Report: Archdiocese ahead of fundraising goal, despite scandals

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The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis tells KSTP that it has surpassed its annual fundraising goal by $500,000, with contributions so far of $9.8 million, despite an ongoing priest-abuse crisis.

Church officials note that insurance and other funds are used to pay any settlements with victims of priest abuse. Parisioner contributions are used for other purposes, including various ministries, schools and other social services in a 12-county area, KSTP reports.

Some churches in the 188-parish archdiocese are struggling to raise money this season, however, KSTP reports: St. Joan of Arc in South Minneapolis has barely raised 31 percent of its annual goal; and The Basilica of St. Mary in Minneapolis is only about 55 percent of the way to its goal of $183,634 so far.

Some Catholics have been carefully weighing their giving options this season in light of the clergy sex abuse scandal, MPR News reported last week.

The archdiocese has been reeling from bad publicity and fallout stemming from a steady stream of lawsuits brought this year by people who say they were victims of sexual abuse by priests, in most cases, decades ago.

The lawsuits became possible this year after the Minnesota Legislature passed a new law that lifted the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse cases in civil court. That allowed lawsuits against priests and churches, even if the abuse happened decades ago. Accusers have three years to file the lawsuits.

Earlier this month, the archdiocese released a long-secret list of priests "credibly accused" of abuse over the years, but activists say the list is incomplete.

Among those not on the list are five priests who church officials a decade ago suspected of a history of abuse.

One of the five is Harry Walsh, a 79-year-old former priest who had been accused of sexual abuse by two teens decades ago, and who recently has been teaching sex ed to teens in Wright County. He has now been suspended from that job, the Star Tribune reports. Walsh strongly denies any abuse allegation.

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