Settlement provides closure for victims, congregants - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Settlement provides closure for victims, congregants

Burlington, Vermont - May 16, 2010

Sunday is a day of rest, and for many, a day to celebrate their faith. But this Sunday Vermont's Catholics had something else to think about the end to a painful series of high profile abuse cases.

On Thursday Bishop Salvatore Matano announced a settlement with 26 former altar boys. They would share $17 million dollars for sexual abuse at the hand of priests. Men they trusted. Men their families trusted. "So I want to first apologize most sincerely for the pain the victims have suffered," Matano said.

The bill will not be footed by the faithful. The Church will sell valuable property, Camp Holy Cross in Colchester and diocese property along North Avenue in Burlington. The money will go to victims molested in the 1960s and 70s, primarily by Rev. Edward Paquette.

Parishioners at Christ the King Sunday morning reacted to the news. "What was the travesty committed against children was beyond belief horrible, however the people that actually committed these crimes, most of them are long since dead and it seems to me that it's my grandchildren that are gonna pay the consequences," said Mary Belatski of Burlington.

"It's good to get it over with, it's a blessing that it's over with," said Gene Clowers of Burlington. "I think that the judge acted fairly in bunching it altogether and saying 'c'mon guys, let's get a settlement and get this thing done with.' It drags along too much and I think it affects everybody involved."

Kristine Bickford agrees. She works with victims of sexual abuse. Bickford stresses crimes like this are rare, but adults need to be on the lookout for pedophiles. "I think people need to understand that there are people out there. They groom boys and girls and people that seem vulnerable and trusting," she said.

Bickford is also Catholic. "I still go to church, I still believe and I'm hopeful and I think that in the end, the good will reign," she said.

A settlement intended to provide closure for the victims, congregants and the Church.

Christine Hinkel - WCAX News

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