Catholic Charities Files Lawsuit Against Diocese of St. Cloud
ST. CLOUD -- Catholic Charities of St. Cloud has filed a civil complaint against the Diocese of St. Cloud.
Catholic Charities is asking the diocese be "directed to transfer" the ownership of the St. Cloud Children's Home and its property, per commitments made four years ago. The complaint also asks the diocese be made to reimburse the charity for its investments in the property.
Executive Director Steve Pareja says they find themselves in an unusual place.
"This is an unusual position we find ourselves in. While we work closely with the diocese, we are a separately governed and run organization. Our separateness comes with obligations - legally and morally - to protect the financial health and sustainability of Catholic Charities, and be responsible stewards of the assets our donors have entrusted to us. This filing is a reflection of those responsibilities."
Catholic Charities says the diocese made commitments in 2014 to give them ownership of the facility and surrounding properties. The charity took on "significant debt" to fund construction of a new 16-unit residential treatment facility on the site. They say that debt is secured by other assets that could otherwise be better used.
The charity stopped giving residential treatment services at the facility last May but still provides youth services there. Catholic Charities would like to continue this activity. Pareja says the issue has been discussed for years, however, takes on a new urgency in light of the diocese filing for Chapter 11.
Catholic Charities says this isn't an attack on the diocese or a tactic to shelter assets of the diocese during the bankruptcy process.