Marianas Variety News & Views [Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands]
October 11, 2022
By The Archdiocese of Agaña
Press Release – October 11, 2022
With District Court of Guam Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood approving the confirmation of the Fifth Amended Joint Plan of Reorganization on Tuesday, Oct. 4, the process to make restitution to victim survivors of clergy abuse on Guam can begin.
Attorney Ford Elsaesser, lead legal counsel for the Archdiocese of Agaña’s Chapter 11 Reorganization said Monday that the amount that the victim survivors trust fund will receive would be in the range of at least $34 million to $45 million. The final amount would be dependent on the actual sum that the sale of respective archdiocese properties would bring in.
The settlement amount encompasses actual cash contributions from the combined Catholic schools and parishes; archdiocese properties that are being transferred to the victim survivors trust fund; plus money from the insurance companies that insured the archdiocese.
Additionally, the archdiocese will provide the following to family members of victim survivors: school vouchers for students in grade levels K-12th; and cemetery plots.
Attorney Elsaesser said the first step in the restitution process would be the transfer of the designated money and assets of the archdiocese to the trust fund of the victim survivors. He said that process would span 45 to 60 days.
Speaking on behalf of Archbishop Michael Byrnes, Archdiocesan Vicar General Father Romeo Convocar this week again apologized to the victim survivors for the suffering that was inflicted by some clergy and laypersons of the archdiocese in past years. “While nothing can truly erase the deep pain that members of our archdiocese inflicted on them then, we pray that this approved settlement will help them in their healing,” Father Romy said after the judge’s decision Tuesday.
The approval of the Fifth Amended Joint Plan of Reorganization also allows our archdiocese to continue to fulfill its mission of serving God and helping people in our different ministries, parishes, schools and organizations.
Archdiocese of Agaña statement
“The Archdiocese of Agaña first gives thanks to our loving God for the tremendous blessing that He has granted today. We are happy above all for the sake of the numerous victim survivors of clergy sexual abuse who have waited many years for this day.
“With Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood of the District Court of Guam approving the confirmation of the Fifth Amended Joint Plan of Reorganization today, victim survivors of clergy sexual abuse in Guam will now finally receive an important measure of compensation and restitution for the agony they’ve endured.
“These men and in some cases, women suffered unimaginable harm at the hands of clergy and laypersons of our Catholic Church on Guam in the past. And while nothing can truly erase the deep pain that members of our archdiocese inflicted on them then, we pray that this approved settlement will help them in their healing. Once more, on behalf of Archbishop Michael Byrnes, and the entire archdiocese, we apologize to the victim survivors for the severe harm that former priests and church members did to them.
“The approval of the settlement plan embodied in the Joint Plan of Reorganization means we can begin the process of restitution to the victim survivors. It also enables our archdiocese to continue its ministries while rebuilding and reorganizing ourselves to be a better Church. It won’t be an easy task. However, God is ever with us in this on-going journey. We ask for the continued cooperation of all archdiocesan entities as we move forward with limited resources.
“Thank you to the numerous members of our Catholic schools, parishes and organizations who have sacrificed and contributed in many ways toward developing the settlement plan for the victim survivors. We thank our Lord for your faith and resilience.
“We thank Judge Tydingco-Gatewood and Chief Bankruptcy Judge Robert J. Faris who have both worked aggressively yet with great compassion and fairness to help the victim survivors and our archdiocese.
“Thank you to Curtis Ching of the Office of the U.S. Trustee, our hardworking legal team as well as the attorneys of the victim survivors and other parties for the extensive work and expertise they have dedicated to this most difficult case. Our gratitude extends to all parties involved in the Chapter 11 Reorganization of the archdiocese, to include the insurance companies, banking institutions and others.
“Again, we give primary thanks to our merciful Creator. God has been with us throughout the Church’s journey of Chapter 11 Reorganization and reconciliation. Our trust is forever in our Lord.”