North County Students to Pay for Sex-Abuse Scandal

By Charles S. Smith
North County Times
November 11, 2007

Bishop Robert H. Brom of San Diego has launched a campaign using letters and personal meetings in the parishes to explain to the laity how the Diocese of San Diego will pay off the sexual abuse settlement. The total liability of $183 million will be settled as follows: insurance ($76 million), religious orders ($17 million), unrestricted diocesan assets and properties ($25 million), high school properties ($40 million) and fundraising ($25 million).

The Secondary School Initiative, a corporation sole, was established in 2003 to help build three diocesan high schools: Mater Dei (south), Cathedral (central) and Pax Christi (north). It was anticipated that the proceeds of approximately $75 million realized by selling the former sites of USD and Marian high schools would assist in the building of these three new high schools. The North County site was 38 acres owned by the diocese and located adjacent to the San Luis Rey Elementary School in Oceanside.

It was anticipated the diocese would donate the 38 acres and the Secondary School Initiative would contribute $25 million to begin construction of Pax Christi. Twenty-five million dollars has already been committed to Cathedral and $25 million to Mater Dei. The only change in this understanding was that if North County Catholics wished that Pax Christi be located further inland, then the 38-acre Oceanside property would be traded for a more geographically convenient site.

The young students of North County are now being told that their 38 acres and the $25 million from the Secondary School Initiative will now be used to compensate the victims of sexual abuse.

This scenario raises some questions:

1) Does the Secondary School Initiative have a moral and fiduciary responsibility to establish Pax Christi in North County?

2) Is it justice for the Catholic students of North County to pay for the sins of a few sick clergymen, the ignorance of bishops and the malpractice of misguided psychologists and legal experts?

3) There will be no diocesan Catholic high school in North County. If Catholic education is destined to suffer pain for these crimes, why must this burden be placed on only the youths of North County and their families?

Pauma Valley resident Charles S. Smith, M.D., is the father of six children who attended Catholic schools and several of his 13 grandchildren also attend Catholic schools. He was part of a group that helped start the St. Thomas Aquinas elementary school in a San Marcos storefront in the early 1980s.


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