Spokane Parishes Oppose Settlement Offer
ASSOCIATED PRESS, Feb. 17 — Eighty-two Catholic parishes in Eastern Washington are opposing the Diocese of Spokane’s $45.7 million settlement offer to victims of sexual abuse by priests, reported the Associated Press. The diocesan settlement offers an average of $610,000 for each of 75 victims.
The Association of Parishes was created in 2004 to protect parish assets. The group is concerned that the settlement increases the possibility that the diocese will sell churches or schools to raise money.
“The proposed settlement provides no clear means for funding that obligation … other than involuntary liquidation of parish churches and schools,” the Association of Parishes said in a statement.
A U.S. Bankruptcy Court judge in the case previously ruled that Bishop William Skylstad controls all parish assets. Father Steve Dublinski, vicar for the diocese, said that as separate legal entities, the parishes are free to have their own opinion, but he declined to say what might happen to the parishes in the future.
The diocese filed for bankruptcy protection in 2004, citing claims by abuse victims totaling about $77 million against assets of about $11 million.

Diocese Suspends Communion From Chalice
DAILY ADVERTISER, Feb. 16 — The Diocese of Lafayette, La. is suspending distribution of Communion wine from a shared chalice over concerns about the spread of meningitis, said the Advertiser.
In recent weeks, at least two deaths and two cases of meningococcal bacteria have been linked to the University of Louisiana.
Based on recommendations from medical experts, Bishop Michael Jarrell mandated that Communion from the chalice not be provided until further notice.
“I think our parishioners will understand. It’s better to be safe than sorry,” said Father Robert Romero, pastor at St. Landry Church in Opelousas. He added that “the people will still receive the Lord” under the species of bread.

Indiana Bishop Meets with Young Adults
THE TIMES, Feb. 20 — In an effort to reach out to young adults, Diocese of Gary, Ind. Bishop Dale Melczek has decided to meet informally with young Catholics at a local restaurant for a “Fireside Chat,” said The Times, a daily newspaper of northwest Indiana.
The casual atmosphere will free young adults to ask questions and share their thoughts. Bishop Melczek plans to share his hopes for the future involvement of young adults in the Church’s work.
“The face of the Church is changing,” said Kevin Driscoll, coordinator of the Youth & Young Adult Ministry for the diocese. “Young adults are beginning to take positive ownership of their Christian faith.”

Maryland Catholic Schools Seek Tax Credits
WBAL, Feb. 21 — Maryland legislation may provide tax breaks to companies that support Catholic education, reported WBAL. The bill is designed to prevent additional Catholic school closings in the state.
“It allows businesses … to take 75% of a tax credit and apply it toward scholarships or scholarship organizations,” said Ronald Valenti, superintendent of the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s Catholic schools.
The Maryland Catholic Conference drafted the bill, which is currently in the state Senate. If passed, the tax-credit program would be operated by the Maryland State Department of Education.
In other news, New York Cardinal Edward Egan led a delegation to the New York State capital to campaign for education tax credits Feb. 14, and the enrollment cap for the Milwaukee, Wis., Parental Choice Program was increased to 7,500 students.