Archdiocese Plan for Reorganization Coming to Close

The Register Guard (Eugene, OR), April 11, 2007 | Go to article overview

Archdiocese Plan for Reorganization Coming to Close


Byline: Bill Bishop The Register-Guard

PORTLAND - Bankruptcy reorganization may be finalized on Monday for the Archdiocese of Portland, a federal bankruptcy judge indicated Tuesday after a 3 1/2 -hour hearing on the plan.

If approved, the plan will allow the church to pay 175 victims of sexual abuse by priests, while continuing to operate normally and without having to sell schools or properties of its 124 parishes.

Court records indicate that the church will end up paying $104 million to people who were sexually abused by priests of the archdiocese since 1984. Of that amount, $77 million will be paid under the reorganization plan to settle 175 claims that have been on hold since 2004, when the archdiocese became the first in the nation to declare bankruptcy on the eve of trials in multimillion dollar lawsuits over clergy sexual abuse.

While the reorganization plan winds to a close, representatives of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said after Tuesday's hearing that parishioners should insist the archdiocese reveal all it knows about abusive priests and the response of church leaders to abuse allegations over the years.

"Church officials are still hiding information. Why would anybody believe churches are safe places for children," Bill Crane, SNAP's Oregon director, said Tuesday. "It's a matter of public safety as well. Why isn't the church exposing people who knowingly have an appetite for sexually abusing children?"

He said hearing is set for July in which several claimants are asking the court to make public the confidential documents they obtained through the legal process showing the church's response to clergy abuse allegations. Church officials oppose the request, according to court records.

Until the plan is finalized, all parties remain under a judicial gag order preventing them from publicly discussing the plan or the mediation process that settled all but three comparatively minor claims against the archdiocese. …

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