Archbishop's Support for Memorial Sought
Proponent Says It Would Help Victims of Sex Abuse Heal

By Alan Gustafson
Statesman Journal [Oregon]
February 2, 2007

The spiritual leader of 400,000 Catholics in Western Oregon was asked Thursday to support a proposed monument to victims of priest sex abuse in the state.

Archbishop John Vlazny can't publicly comment about the proposal, said Bud Bunce, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Portland.

He said that's because Vlazny and other church officials remain muzzled by a gag order imposed by a federal judge in connection with a proposed bankruptcy settlement plan for the archdiocese.

A monument, preferably on the grounds of the Portland archdiocese, would help victims of sexual abuse heal, said Bill Crane, the leader of the Oregon chapter of the Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests, or SNAP, the nation's largest support group for clergy-molestation victims.

"Money brings no healing and no reconciliation," Crane said. "By putting a monument in place, I think it's an everyday remembrance of what has taken place. We're initiating something that is going to be tangible."

Crane and other monument proponents delivered a letter Thursday to the Archdiocese of Portland, asking Vlazny to allow a memorial to be erected on the grounds of the archdiocese.

Crane said the project would be funded by donations from victims and other donors.

In 2003, Crane, who grew up in New Jersey and said he was molested there by a priest, spearheaded efforts that resulted in the first monument in the nation in remembrance of clergy sex-abuse victims.

The monument stands at the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Mendham, N.J. Carved out of black basalt stone, it weighs 400 pounds and bears a plaque with Jesus' words that anyone who harms a child would be better off "to have a millstone hung around his neck" and be "thrown into the depth of the sea."

In Oregon, proponents envision a similar millstone memorial, Crane said.

Bunce said he did not know when Vlazny might be able to comment about the proposal.

"We were asked not to make any comments about any aspect of the bankruptcy proceeding until such time as the plan has been acted upon," Bunce said.

Asked what link exists between the bankruptcy settlement plan and the proposed monument, Bunce said, "It's an aspect of a possible requirement that could be attached, so we're not able to make any comments on it."

The $75 million plan calls for the archdiocese to pay off more than 150 priest sex-abuse claimaints. Insurance companies have agreed to pay nearly $52 million under the proposal, with the rest of the money coming from archdiocese assets. or (503) 399-6709


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