Boston Archdiocese to Settle With 88 Abuse Victims

BOSTON — The Boston Archdiocese said March 9 that 88 people with clergy sexual abuse claims have agreed to a settlement in which an arbitrator will determine how much compensation each receives. Awards are to range from $5,000 to $200,000, averaging about $75,000 per person.

“The archdiocese presented this settlement program in good faith to compensate those survivors who have been abused by priests of the archdiocese, and to do so in a way that is sensitive to the pastoral needs of the survivors,” the archdiocese said in a statement.

Arbitrator Paul Finn was to hold hearings with victims in March and April and determine the awards by May 8 so that victims could receive compensation by May 15. About 100 other abuse claims are not addressed in the March 9 settlement. Of these, 30 will be offered arbitration in which the arbitrator determines whether abuse occurred or not. The other 70 involve allegations against lay employees or against priests who were not from the archdiocese or allegations by people who were no longer minors at the time of the alleged abuse. Archdiocesan spokeswoman Kelly Lynch said those would be decided on a “case-by-case basis.”


Christian Group Calls for Release of Kidnapped In Iraq

WASHINGTON — Christian Peacemaker Teams have restated their commitment to nonviolence, despite news of the murder of an American member, and have called for the safe release of three other members kidnapped in Iraq.

The body of Tom Fox, an American Quaker, was discovered March 9 in Baghdad, Iraq. Fox, 54, had been in Iraq for more than a year as a peace activist when he was kidnapped Nov. 26 along with three other members: Canadians James Loney and Harmeet Singh Sooden and Norman Kember of England. Their fate was unknown at press time.


Bishops: Haiti’s Election Sets Stage for Democracy

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Several Haitian bishops have expressed hope that the recent presidential election sets the stage for a stable democracy and the removal of U.N. peacekeeping troops.

They said the situation is still volatile, and the Church can play a role in dampening political passions and fostering reconciliation so that a new government can take root after several years of social and political instability.

Rene Preval was elected president in the Feb. 7 vote.

The Church is present in every city and town, making it important for the rebuilding of the country’s institutions, said Msgr. Andre Pierre, permanent secretary of the Haitian bishops’ conference. “The Church is helping the people focus on peace through meetings, preaching and radio messages,” he said March 8. “It’s giving direction, helping people to calm down.”


New Film Encourages ‘Fishers of Men’

WASHINGTON — With the mid-March premiere of Fishers of Men, an 18-minute DVD that shows many facets of a priest’s daily life, “all the elements are in place” for dioceses to join in a new vocations fulfillment and recruitment project sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, according to Father Edward Burns, executive director of the bishops’ Secretariat for Vocations and Priestly Formation.

Father Burns said the Priestly Life and Vocation Summit: Fishers of Men project is intended to renew priests’ sense of fulfillment in their vocation and to encourage them to draw on that satisfaction to invite other men to pursue the priesthood.

The project was developed by the bishops’ Committee on Vocations. “Through workshops for priests,” Father Burns said, “the goal of this project is to renew and regenerate the priesthood in the United States.”