November 18, 2005

'Global resolution' would bring quicker aid to priests' victims

The Oregonian

Friday, November 18, 2005
Many church services include a moment for what is known as passing the peace. Some variation on "Peace be with you" erupts from the pews as friends hug, strangers shake hands and shyer parishioners stand with frozen smiles, waiting for the moment to pass.

It always does.

The Archdiocese of Portland's $40 million settlement estimate, offered this week to victims of sexual abuse who are claimants in its bankruptcy case, will be seen, coldly, as a business deal. And of course it is. Yet this is also a moment of proffered peace. It's tentative and awkward, trembling with the possibility of rejection and with something else -- real hope for a rapprochement.

True, there's nothing settled about this settlement estimate. U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Elizabeth L. Perris will scrutinize it and decide whether it is fair. It will also be subject to approval by claimants in the case. They can respond. Or they can let this moment pass.

Many victims of sexual abuse will, of course, judge this settlement estimate to be woefully insufficient, even something close to an insult and certainly no more than a starting point. Some victims, sadly, aren't even around to object. In the past year, as The Oregonian's Steve Woodward has reported, two victims of sexual abuse who were claimants in the archdiocese's bankruptcy case committed suicide. A third is considered an apparent suicide.

Posted by kshaw at November 18, 2005 07:50 AM