November 30, 2009
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
As rector of the Jesuit Community at Seattle University, I wish to keep you informed periodically about the Chapter 11 reorganization filing by the Oregon Province and of our continuing commitment to bringing healing and reconciliation to victims of sexual abuse from decades ago.
You will recall that last February the Oregon Province, after many years of settlements and reconciliation with victims, needed to file for Chapter 11 so that each victim would be treated with equitable fairness within the province’s available financial resources. Simultaneously, we have the continuing obligation to care for our elderly Jesuits and to ensure the solid formation of our young Jesuits. The filing also enables the Jesuits to go forward with renewed apostolic purpose in all of ministries in schools, missions, parishes, hospitals, and so forth.
The Chapter 11 process is complex and arduous with multiple motions by the attorneys, with a federal bankruptcy judge in Portland, Oregon, setting the parameters for the litigation. Several months ago, the judge set a “bar date” for November 30 by which time all claims need to have been brought forward. She also required that the province publicize far and wide and multiple times the fact of the Chapter 11 filing and the need for any victims from the past to come forward by November 30.
As the bar date arrived, we noticed a marked increase of press reports throughout the Northwest describing the plaintiffs’ case. The court’s processes, I expect, will now move to a somewhat quieter stage. A retired judge from Nevada has been appointed as a mediator, who was also the mediator for the Spokane Diocese when it reached a bankruptcy resolution a few years ago.
The risk in all this publicity about lawsuits is that we lose sight of the victims and our shared sorrow for the grievous harm that was done and our ongoing work as Jesuits to continue our work of reconciliation, compassion and healing in the midst of all of this. That is our focus throughout this process. We also appreciate the prayers and personal support you have given us Jesuits individually and as a community.
Patrick J. Howell SJ
Rector, the Jesuit Community