Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington
"Update on the mediation process"
by Bishop Blase J. Cupich
(From the Dec. 2, 2010 edition of the Inland Register)
Last month, I announced that our diocese and other parties have agreed to engage in mediation regarding future claims of sexual abuse. I am grateful that all parties are coming to the table, and that the bankruptcy court has appointed competent and experienced mediators. There is no guarantee mediation will succeed, but I am convinced it offers the best chance to bring to an end an extremely painful chapter in the history of our diocese. I have summarized for you the incidents leading to the need for mediation in a sheet accompanying this letter.
Let me be clear about what I believe are my dual responsibilities in this extremely challenging process: I am fully committed to the just compensation of survivors of sexual abuse covered under the Plan of Reorganization, which set the parameters for closure of the diocese’s bankruptcy case. At the same time, I am the pastor of this local Church in Eastern Washington. As such, I am responsible for continuing its mission. I will do all I can to spare any of our parish families the trauma and distress of being displaced due to the foreclosure and sale of their churches and schools.
All parties now enter into an intense period of mediated negotiation. The effort will involve the skill, wisdom and expertise of a small group. But each and every Catholic in our diocese also can lend a helping hand by joining with me to pray for the success of this effort.
The outcome will have an impact not only on all the parishes in Spokane County, but on all the parishes in our diocese as we reach out to support one another. We must stand together, act together and pray together. To that end I ask that each parish establish an hour of weekly prayer for our success. This could be in the form of the Liturgy of the Hours, the rosary, Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and/or petitionary prayer. I ask that pastors send me their schedules of prayer services and I will do my best to attend one each week. The dates and times of prayer services will be posted on the diocesan website as they are scheduled. Following each service, I will be available to visit with parishioners if they wish. Mediation by its very nature is extremely sensitive, and I ask your understanding when information is not appropriate to share. But I promise to provide you with regular updates and to be as open with you as I possibly can.
We are a people of faith. We know the power of prayer. Let us pray with one another that all parties work together to find a way forward in this moment of darkness and uncertainty. I am convinced that God is at work in this moment, calling us to a deeper trust in Divine Providence. I take heart in words St. John of the Cross once wrote: “When you are in darkness and cannot see anything or find a way out, then the only thing you can do is to put your hand into the hand of someone who can see and who can lead you out into the light.” That is what I plan to do. I ask you to please do the same.
Some have asked why there is even a need for mediation. The following background may be of help.
• On December 6, 2004, the Diocese of Spokane filed for bankruptcy and submitted a Plan of Reorganization, which provided a fund of $48 million to compensate victims of sexual abuse.
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