Catholic News Agency - EWTN [Denver CO]
April 21, 2021
The Diocese of Syracuse will hold a Mass for Healing on April 29 after nearly 400 sex abuse claims involving the diocese have been filed.
“One victim of sexual abuse is too many,” said an April 19 letter from Bishop Douglas Lucia of Syracuse to his diocese. “And so, to see the number ‘371’ is particularly disheartening and of the greatest concern for me because of the damage done both directly and collaterally,” he said of the 371 claims that had been filed under the state’s Child Victims Act.
Lucia said that he is renewing his commitment and that of the Diocese of Syracuse to assist survivors of sexual abuse with their healing.
“We seek to make amends for the wrong and sinful behavior perpetrated against you and cannot apologize enough for the failure to protect you from your abusers,” said the bishop.
New York’s Child Victims Act created a one-year extension of the statute of limitations for old sex abuse cases; originally scheduled to close in August 2020, the one-year period was extended due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will close at the end of August 14, 2021.
However, a bankruptcy court determined April 15 as the closing date for abuse claims to be filed against the Syracuse diocese. In preparation for the deluge of lawsuits under the Child Victims Act, Lucia filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last June.
In the letter, Bishop Lucia said it was “of particular concern” how the diocese “could respond in a just and fair manner to the claims of sexual abuse arising from the NYS Child Victims Act.”
At the time of the filing, around 100 lawsuits had been filed against the diocese.
The “next phase” of this reorganization will begin now that all abuse lawsuits have been filed, said Lucia. The phase will involve the diocese meeting with insurance companies and the creditors committee, with the goal of compensating victims of abuse while moving on from bankruptcy.
“Over the course of the coming months, I ask you to pray with me for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as both Advocate and Consoler for this work, so that it may bear much healing and fruit for those involved,” said Lucia.
“Particularly, I seek a reasonable way to assist the victims of child abuse in the Diocese of Syracuse which fosters restoration and renewal in their lives as children of God,” he said.
Lucia added that a Mass for Healing will be held at the cathedral on April 29, the end of National Child Abuse Prevention Month. He said that there will be a special blessing during the Mass for survivors of abuse, and that he “will particularly pray for the gifts of healing and fortitude for all victims of crime and oppression.”
“Having just celebrated Divine Mercy Sunday, I again place our diocesan family under the loving care of the Sacred Heart of Jesus praying that He will make our hearts more like His through this time of purification and reparation,” said Lucia.
“Please know my prayers for you and your loved ones continue and I ask humbly for your prayers for all victims, as well as for me and the Church of Syracuse.”