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As claims against archdiocese build up, group asks court to extend deadline

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There are less than three weeks left for individuals or parishes to file claims against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in connection with this year's clergy sex abuse settlement.

According to the Pioneer Press, at least 170 claims have been filed on behalf of sexual abuse victims so far, with the possibility of more coming before the Aug. 3 cutoff.

There are also individual parishes filing, the paper says; attorney Mary Jo Jensen-Carter, who represents the many of them, told the paper she expects most of the 187 parishes to file claims.

The reason for this? Financial protection.

As KSTP explains, the claims ask that, if someone sues an individual parish for clergy sex abuse, the archdiocese be responsible for any payout that results, rather than the church itself.

Much of this stems from a settlement between the archdiocese and abuse victims that prevented potentially hundreds of lawsuits from going to trial.

Under that settlement, the church is required to release all documents and records on priests, past and present, credibly accused of sexual misconduct. It’s also required to make undisclosed payments to claimants.

There have also been questions about whether insurance would cover the cost of some of these claims. In November, the archdiocese filed a lawsuit arguing they should.

Meanwhile the creditors committee – which is essentially a group that monitors the church’s actions as it goes through bankruptcy – is hoping to push back the deadline.

MPR reports a court filing by the committee's attorney requests the deadline be moved to May 25, 2016.

That's the same date legislators had initially chosen, until a judge moved it up to August of this year.

In the court filing, the attorney says many parishes haven't publicized the claims deadline enough, and notes the judge in the case has even expressed some doubts, according to MPR. A hearing is set for July 30.

As part of the bankruptcy agreement, the archdiocese is required to publicize the deadline through a number of channels – national and local newspapers, TV stations and other outlets; church publications; and on its own website.

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