Letter to the Editor: Vatican should pay the archdiocese sex abuse settlement

Guam Daily Post

May 8, 2022

By Diane Iglesias

In September 2018, “mediation” was scheduled. In January 2019, the Archdiocese of Agana filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization, listing $22.96 million in assets and $45.66 million in liabilities. They provided a list of nonsalable “essential” and salable “nonessential” properties.

On Guam, the original lawsuit was $1.3 billion with almost 300 claimants. With 1.3 billion Catholics in the world, it’s like each Catholic giving $1 to the settlement fund!

Since Guam’s population is 179,000 people, that’s equal to every person on Guam getting at least $7,000 each! Please let those numbers sink in!

The world’s population is 7.7 billion, over 3 billion live on less than $2.50 a day!

I’m sure that most of us can agree the lawsuit settlement money can be much better served feeding and sheltering the impoverished and homeless people of the world instead of paying for the clergy’s sex abuse crimes.

While it is commendable that Archbishop Michael Byrnes replaced both Hon and eventually Apuron as leader of the Agana archdiocese, and has done a pretty good job of leading Guam’s Roman Catholic flock and has helped in the healing process, it is ironic that he is now asking them to help pay for the irreparable damage done to them by contributing even more assets.

Enough is enough! If Archbishop Byrnes does not appeal to the Vatican to pay the settlement and continues to extort the assets from the Guam Catholic faithful, he would be complicit in this grievous act and leaving them out to dry!

Before the trial, the archdiocese indicated it could pay $34.8 million, a far cry from the original $1.3 billion lawsuit.

At the end of the 2015 movie “Spotlight,” the Boston Globe newspaper’s exposé of the child sex abuse cases in the Boston Archdiocese and the Roman Catholic Church’s systematic attempts to cover them up, 29 countries reported their own Catholic clergy child sex abuse cases, a sickening worldwide epidemic!

However, the Italian government has a treaty with the Vatican that guarantees areas of immunity to Vatican officials, including bishops and priests, making it difficult getting an accurate figure on how they are alleged to have committed sex abuse.

The Vatican should do the right thing and pay the $1.3 billion settlement debt because it was their predatory pedophile clergy they rarely held accountable, choosing to look the other way.

It’s a “win-win” situation. The claimants would be monetarily compensated, a token of the horrific ordeals they endured and the Catholic Church could continue running its churches and schools.

The Vatican has more than 18,000 works of art , worth millions. It is trillions-rich and could very easily pay off the settlement debt. It has bountiful assets: land, properties, stocks and bonds, interest on bank accounts, etc. Its gold hoard in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York vaults has never been sold, bought in the 1930s at $35 per ounce and is now worth almost $427 million at $1,921 per ounce.

No one can blame Federal District Court Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood for running out of patience, this has been dragging on for three years in federal district court!

This past January, the Seattle archdiocese paid $3 million in priest abuse settlements. So no, this problem is not going away.

You can never “clean house” if some of the perpetrators, bishops and higher, police themselves and facilitate the cover-ups.

My heart and prayers go out to all the victims who have suffered at the hands of the Catholic clergy and their insidious cover-up by the hierarchy. May they get “just ” compensation for the grievous wrongs they have endured and have some semblance of closure. God bless you all!Jesus said:“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” Matthew 18:6

“I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” John 14:6

“And the truth shall set you free !” John 8:32

Diane Iglesias is a resident of Dededo.