Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
I am reaching out to you today to announce that we are finalizing a settlement agreement in our Diocesan Chapter 11 reorganization case. I wish to express that this is very positive news, and I want to thank all parties involved who worked hard to bring this process to a conclusion.
It is the responsibility of the Church to see that the survivors of sexual abuse are justly compensated for the suffering they have endured. It is my firm hope that this settlement is the next step in the healing process of our brothers and sisters who have been harmed.
We have a commission from Christ to follow Him and spread the Good News. The terms of this settlement will help to ensure that we will be able carry out the essential ministries and mission of the Church.
The greater part of the settlement will be funded through insurance entities such as Catholic Mutual Group, and will be used to compensate the survivors of sexual abuse. Approximately $3 million of this amount will be a debt incurred by the Diocese, to be paid back over a number of years.
In order for the parishes to focus on their everyday operations and ministries, they have collectively and voluntarily agreed to contribute $500,000 in order to help the Diocese fund the overall plan. This contribution will also help to relieve them of potential individual financial burdens from any current or future lawsuits. Other parties have also agreed to contribute in return for the same protections.
We still have much to do – further non-monetary actions are still under discussion, such as prayer services and meetings with survivors of sexual abuse. These and other positive steps I hope will help to bring healing to our brothers and sisters in Christ.
We will continue to follow the procedures of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People; these procedures include background checks before hiring of employees, and yearly safe environment training for every employee and volunteer in the Diocese. This is to provide a safe environment for our young people to encounter the Living Christ.
I ask you to please pray for the survivors of sexual abuse. As we enter into the Easter season, may our hope in the Resurrection of Our Lord give us strength and peace so that we might be a more merciful Church.
Sincerely Yours in Christ,
Bishop James S. Wall