Catholic Diocese of Spokane, Washington



From the

Official News Magazine of the Diocese of Spokane

Deacon Eric Meisfjord, Editor
P.O. Box 48, Spokane WA 99210
(509) 358-7340; FAX: (509) 358-7302

Letters to the Editor

(From the June 12, 2003 edition of the Inland Register)

Thanks from CCHD

(Editor’s note: The following was sent to Bishop Skylstad as well as to the Inland Register, to be shared with the Diocese of Spokane at large.)

Dear Bishop Skylstad:

On behalf of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, I am writing to thank you and all of the faithful of the Diocese of Spokane for your very generous 2002 collection contribution of $34,185. This support enables the Church in the United States to continue to support people who are poor to break the cycle of poverty.

Thanks to the prophetic foresight of our bishops and the generosity and dedication of clergy, Religious, and laity, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development has supported the self-empowerment of low-income people as they find a way out of poverty - not just for a day, but for a lifetime.

Last year, CCHD shared $11.5 million with 334 projects in 47 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

Through their gifts to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the people of Spokane help to break the cycle of poverty and build community across our nation. We are grateful for your leadership and for the invaluable partnership of your diocesan director, Scott Cooper.

I invite you to join me in being filled with hope as we celebrate the accomplishments of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development during the past 32 years and re-commit ourselves to “renew the face of the earth” by eliminating the causes that make and keep people poor in our country.

Father Robert J. Vitillo, Washington, D.C.

(Father Vitillo is Executive Director of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the U.S. bishops’ effort to combat the grass-roots causes of poverty in the United States.)

Re-schedule schools?

Editor:

Your recent issue contained a letter from Winnie Doohan, lamenting the fact that so many students will never have the benefit of being taught by those wonderful nuns.

I guess few people realize that the first schools in this country were full year-round schools and primarily started by nuns and priests from Ireland, as were our hospitals by Mother Joseph.

Yes. The Catholic Church was a strong leader in our education and could be again if they would give the nation a year-round school that would keep our children in the classrooms for more than the present 180-day school year.

No, I realize we can’t increase all of our schools’ school years, but wouldn’t it be great if we could start with one school that had three semesters of 70 days each, for a 210 day school year, and have it taught by nuns.

I’m willing to bet it would be swamped with families seeking to register their children for two special reasons. First, to give their children the benefit of being taught by nuns and secondly, to have their kids off the streets and in school for more than 180 days each year and graduate with much better educations than those in our public schools.

Once again the Catholic schools would be almost besieged by parents who want better educations for their children, especially by parents who would be willing to pay more for better educations. And eventually more than just one such school that would not able to meet the demand.

I wonder how many of your readers would be willing to help support such a school with a longer year, especially if it were operated by our good nuns?

Andy Kelly, Spokane

Actions vs. words

Editor:

Actions speak louder than words – an expression apparently the hierarchy of the church does not understand.

In a recent column the bishop indicated the church is “victim-oriented” (“From the Bishop: Brokenness and forgiveness,” IR 5/22/03). I happen to know this is another untruth in the spin currently being engaged in by the hierarchy of our local diocese because nothing is being done for victims unless they subject themselves to the same organization that damaged them. In addition, organizations attempting to aid victims are being thwarted. If the hierarchy wants to show they are in fact oriented toward the victims, they can immediately open up all church records, publish the names of offending deceased priests, and settle all lawsuits. Morally this would be the right thing to do. I do not believe Jesus would approve of using various legal tactics to avoid responsibility.

If the parishioners of the diocese have to pay for the sins of the evil priests who molested the children and the cover-up by the hierarchy, perhaps they will no longer remain “silent in the pews” and do something to demand accountability from those responsible. In private corporations when there is deceit and cover-up, those in positions of responsibility resign or are replaced and face possible criminal penalties. Apparently the hierarchy wants it different for them as they did for the evil priests who they assisted in avoiding prosecution for their criminal acts. If canon law allows this it could not be based on any law of the God in which I have been taught by the church to believe.

The bishop says forgiveness, not harshness, is Christ’s way. Christ would also demand justice.

Do we get it?

Don Brockett, Spokane

(Editor’s note: Mr. Brockett’s letter contains a number of misperceptions, which should be addressed and corrected.

• The actual quote from the bishop’s column was, “There is no question that certain human behaviors can cause terrible harm to self and to others. That’s why the Church is looking to a victim-centered response to the sexual abuse situation.” Not oriented toward – but centered upon – victims.

• The suggestion that victims must “subject themselves to the same organization that damaged them” is an error of perception. The diocese offers counseling to all victims of abuse. The counseling is not conducted by any agency of the Catholic Church. Victims are not required to directly contact the diocese in order to arrange counseling. Contact can be made through legal representation, through victims’ advocates, or directly from the counselor.

• The names of priests removed from ministry for reasons of sexual misconduct were released to the secular press and published in The Inland Register last November. Bishop Skylstad has repeatedly stated his commitment to transparency.

• Diocesan officials have met with victims individually as well as victims’ advocacy groups. Communications Office staff have repeatedly answered questions and provided information and assistance to individual victims and groups. As Director of Communications, I have personally assisted several members of SNAP (Survivors’ Network for Those Abused by Priests) as they assemble information and photographs for their work. The Inland Register, official publication of the Diocese of Spokane, has publicized meetings by both Voice of the Faithful – which meets at St. Aloysius Parish – and SNAP. SNAP and VOTF meeting dates and locations can also be found on the calendar included in the diocese’s web site.

• In regard to opening “all church records,” all relevant records regarding priests against whom there are allegations have been provided to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.

• Diocesan attorneys have been working for months within the civil justice system toward just resolution of claims, and are fully cooperating with the attorneys for alleged victims in the legal process.

• The bishop’s numerous and well-attended public parish meetings, such as those at Assumption and St. John Vianney parishes, Spokane, as well as elsewhere, would hardly suggest the parishioners are “silent in the pews.”)


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