The Winona-Rochester Diocese announced Wednesday that it had reached a $21.5 million settlement agreement with 145 individuals who were sexually abused by its clergy.

The diocese declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2018, in response to the abuse claims.

The settlement allows it to submit a financial reorganization plan to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for final approval.

"We must never forget the tragic anguish caused by individuals who abused their power and positions of authority," said Bishop John Quinn of Winona-Rochester. "We must stay vigilant in our unwavering commitment to protect the youth in our diocese who rely on priests, deacons, religious and lay people to keep them safe and provide for their spiritual care."

St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson, who represented many of the survivors, said the settlement will include an additional $6.5 million from the diocese's insurers.

The Winona-Rochester Diocese is the last Catholic diocese in Minnesota to settle its abuse claims, filed in response to the 2013 Minnesota Child Victims Act which temporarily extended the statute of limitations on abuse cases.

"This is an important day for the survivors," said Anderson.

"Throughout this process, all of the survivors have demonstrated tremendous courage and patience. Today they finally get to see some accountability for the harm they suffered so many years ago."

The diocese was one of five in Minnesota that had filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in response to the abuse claims against its priests.

The dioceses of St. Cloud, New Ulm and Duluth and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis have emerged from bankruptcy.

The Winona-Rochester settlement absolves claims against schools, churches and other Catholic institutions in the diocese.

Jean Hopfensperger • 612-673-4511