Bishop Accountability
  Settlement Lets Diocese Fulfill Obligation

Quad-City Times
October 29, 2004

Who can put a price on the sexual abuse of children?

A quarter-million dollars each is the figure the Davenport Diocese arrived at with the 37 church members raped and abused by 11 priests in crimes spanning four decades.

Those victims now are older and graying. But for a moment, imagine them again as children in your own church. Noisy pre-teens, hanging around churches and youth groups, choirs and camps. Solemn altar-boys. Choir girls in chapel veils.

They were exploited at their most vulnerable time, in the company of someone they and their parents trusted.

Is there any price you wouldn’t pay to protect children you know from this kind of attack? Would the $243,243 diocese settlement figure begin to cover it?

The diocese, pinched between its obligations to victims and responsibility to protect the assets of its entire flock, accepted the $9 million settlement that leaves it financially reeling and pondering bankruptcy. But that will pass.

Parishioners’ generosity routinely clears even bigger financial hurdles. A single diocese church, St. John Vianney in Bettendorf, is raising half that amount — $4.5 million — for a major building renovation and expansion. Clinton Catholics are being asked for a similar commitment to build a consolidated church in their town.

One hundred members in each of the diocese’s 87 congregations could commit $20 per week and knock off the $9 million obligation in less than one year.

But, it’s not about the money.

So much attention necessarily has been expended on the lawsuit, which was absolutely necessary for this diocese to fully uncover the criminal behavior that damaged the church’s own children for so many years. This settlement now makes it possible for Catholics to unite and share the burden of their church’s obligation to their victimized fellow Catholics.


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