"Greatest Measure of Justice': $21m for Survivors, Other Claimants in Archdiocese Plan
By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert
Pacific Daily News
January 17, 2020
|The Santa Marian Kamalen is celebrated at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagatna, Dec. 9, 2019. (Photo: Frank San Nicolas/PDN)|
Guam's clergy sex abuse survivors and other claimants may be able to receive some $21 million in restitution from the Archdiocese of Agana, if the church's reorganization plan to solve its bankruptcy gets court approval.
This is the first public disclosure of the amount the archdiocese and its insurers plan to pay claimants, including those allegedly molested and raped by bishops, priests and other clergy dating back to the 1950s.
The proposed $21 million is from the sale of church properties of about $7 million, payments from insurers totaling about $13 million, and about $1 million expected from Catholic parishes.
The claimants still have to vote to accept or reject the plan.
If accepted, the plan will still need to get a federal bankruptcy judge approval.
Clergy sex abuse survivors have to share the proposed amount with other claimants such as the First Hawaiian Bank, Bank of Hawaii, Bank of Guam, and U.S. Small Business Administration.
The plan will be administered for clergy sex abuse survivors' restitution through an independent trustee.
The plan does not specify how much will go to clergy abuse survivors, and how much will be available for other claimants.
It, however, says each claim will be evaluated as to the nature of abuse and circumstances, impact of abuse, claimant involvement and pending lawsuit.
Prior efforts to settle the abuse claims failed, as parties felt that the archdiocese's offer was too low.
'Greatest measure of justice'
Archdiocesan officials said their goal is to bring the greatest measure of justice in consolation to those who suffered in the hands of the clergy, and that the archdiocese takes responsibility as a church for the sins of the past.
The archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January 2019 so it can settle abuse claims.
Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes and church attorneys told the court that they believe the reorganization plan and its implementation are preferable to any alternative because they "will provide claimants holding claims with significantly greater recoveries than any available alternatives."
The plan, submitted Jan.15, is signed by Byrnes, and archdiocese attorneys Bruce Anderson and John Terlaje.
Catholic Church leaders and attorneys had said that reorganization would ensure clergy sex abuse survivors would be fairly compensated, while the archdiocese continues its mission and keeps open its parishes, schools, soup kitchen and other ministries.
Among the accused priests and other clergy is Guam's archbishop for 30 years, Anthony S. Apuron, who was also convicted by a Vatican tribunal of sexually assaulting minors. The Vatican stripped Apuron of his title and banned him from returning to Guam.
How much is there?
As part of its bankruptcy, the archdiocese sold its Yona property, the former Accion Hotel, for $5.7 million. Some $5.2 million from that sale remains in a separate account for the claims settlement.
The archdiocese said it plans to sell additional properties, and expected contributions from parishes is about $1 million.
The plan, according to the archdiocese, will also be funded by proceeds of two settlements with insurance entities and affiliates, totaling $13 million.
$7 million, from the sale of archdiocese properties
$1 million, from parishes' contribution
$13 million, from Continental Insurance Co. and National Union Fire Insurance Co. of Pittsburgh and affiliates
From the amount, there will be a sum to be set aside to pay unknown claimants.
Reporter Haidee Eugenio Gilbert covers Guam's Catholic church issues, government, business and more. Follow her on Twitter @haidee_eugenio.