May 18, 2006

In rare interview, Matano explains shielding church assets

Rutland Herald

May 18, 2006

By KEVIN O'CONNOR Herald Staff

Vermont Catholic Bishop Salvatore Matano, in a rare interview Wednesday, defended the statewide Diocese of Burlington's decision to place its 128 parishes in charitable trusts.

Matano's move to shield churches from the cost of 19 priest misconduct lawsuits against the diocese drew protests earlier in the day from the national lay Catholic organization Voice of the Faithful, which called the action "fraudulent, deceitful and irresponsible."

In response, the bishop said the plan to shelter local parishes and cover lawsuit costs with state diocesan assets was his way of accommodating both past victims of child sexual abuse by clergy, and Vermont's 118,000 practicing Catholics.

"I want to reach out to victims, but I also have to be conscious of the people in the pews," Matano said in a telephone interview. "It's certainly just to ask the church to be accountable, but is it just to destroy parishes, schools and other agencies of care to do so?"

Posted by kshaw at May 18, 2006 05:19 AM