|St. Anthony's to Provide $1m Towards Bankruptcy Settlement
By Ann McGlynn
February 10, 2008
The Diocese of Davenport's oldest parish, St. Anthony's in Davenport, will provide $1 million toward the bankruptcy settlement between victims, the diocese and its insurance company, a letter sent to parishioners says.
Meanwhile, parishioners at Our Lady of Lourdes in Bettendorf are learning this weekend they are one of the four parishes to provide money as well. The church will host a meeting with Bishop Martin Amos on Feb. 21 at 7 p.m. to discuss the issue. A dollar amount was not provided.
Additionally, the bulletin posted on the Web site for St. Mary's Church in Iowa City says that parish was asked for $650,000.
At St. Anthony's, the finance council and parish trustees approved the payment, the letter from the Rev. Jack Gallagher said. The money will be taken from a parish investment account set up for wills and bequests. Investments have done well recently, he wrote, and the profits will be used to pay the money. None of the money will be taken from the Sunday envelope collections.
Five of the 156 claims filed in the diocesan bankruptcy claimed abuse at St. Anthony's between 1954 and 1971, Gallagher said.
The bankruptcy settlement avoids future lawsuits against St. Anthony's, he told parishoners. "If St. Anthony's had been sued, there is a strong possibility that we would have lost our entire parish savings of $2.8 million."
The settlement absolves all parishes and other diocesan entities of liability for abuse that happened before October 2006, when the diocese filed for bankruptcy.
"The real tragedy, of course, is that sexual abuse ever occurred at St. Anthony's or anywhere else," Gallagher wrote. "It is impossible to comprehend the psychological and spiritual damage of such abuse, but we hope and pray that those who experienced it may find some sort of healing.
"We also pray that this dark chapter in our parish's history has ended, and that now we can move ahead with renewed enthusiasm to be the kind of parish God would have us to be – a community of faith and love, committed to Jesus and his mission."
St. Anthony's is planning a $2.8 million expansion, including a new assembly hall.
At St. Mary's, the money will be taken from parish savings, the bulletin says. The finance council has agreed to contribute this money pending verification of the potential claims and approval of the release documents, it says.
Four people claim they were sexually abused by Msgr. Carl Meinberg, who was pastor at St. Mary's from 1940 through 1967, officials said.
One parish remains unnamed. Diocesan officials have said the four parishes, asked to contribute a total of $2.9 million, had some of the most serious cases of sex abuse. Officials also said the parishes would be publicly announced once parishioners are notified.
The remaining portion of the $37 million will come from a variety of sources.
The St. Vincent Home Corp., a diocesan children's charity, will pay $3 million, while the diocese will provide $5.7 million in cash and likely borrow $2 million. Once the settlement is paid, the diocese will announce a campaign to restore its finances, and finds office space and a place for retired priests to live, officials have said.
The settlement includes the deeding of the diocesan headquarters, the St. Vincent Center, to the bankruptcy settlement trustee. It is valued at $3.9 million. Insurance company Travelers will pay $19.5 million.
The diocese filed for bankruptcy after it lost its first civil sex abuse case that went to trial. It was brought by Michl Uhde, who was awarded $1.5 million by a Scott County jury for abuse he suffered as a child by the now-dead Msgr. Thomas Feeney at Sacred Heart Cathedral in Davenport.
Michael Gould of Florida was set to go to civil trial on accusations he was sexually abused by retired Sioux City Bishop Lawrence Soens, who was a priest in the Diocese of Davenport. That case is on hold pending the outcome of the bankruptcy.
The next bankruptcy court hearing is March 5.
Ann McGlynn can be contacted at (563) 383-2336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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