The bishop of the Diocese of Burlington has placed all 128 parishes in his diocese under a charitable trust.
Read the Catholic News Service article here

Here is the text of his last statement which clarifies his original pastoral letter.

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May 19th, 2006

My Dear Faithful People:

Response to my May 8th, 2006 pastoral letter to the Faithful have brought some questions which I believe deserve clarification, for both our people and the media.

The letter dealt specifically with our reason for placing all 128 parishes in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Vermont under a Charitable Trust in order to protect them and their faithful parishioners from possible unfair liabilities in the current litigations against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington. Concern has been expressed about our motives and possible insensitivity to the victims. Please be assured that I hold only the greatest sympathy, sorrow, and regret for those who have suffered so at the hands of the ones they trusted most. I continue to offer fervent prayers for those who have been so hurt and betrayed, and I ask the faithful to join with me in these prayers. The initiative recently taken is in no way intended to penalize victims. I believe these brothers and sisters in the Lord when they say it is not about money; they are looking for healing and reconciliation. I pray I can be an instrument to bring us together in charity and find reasonable solutions to our difficulties.

In reaching out to the victims, I also realize that I must be conscious of the people in the pews and their total innocence in this entire tragic ordeal. In the contentious climate in which we find ourselves, a legal process might look to every entity indiscriminately as a source of penalty. It is certainly just to ask the Church to be accountable, but is it just to deprive the faithful of their parishes, schools and other agencies of care to do so? Is it just to make them pay for the crimes that have already broken their hearts and tested their faith? Is it just to abandon and not listen to Vermont Catholics who fear they will lose their churches, communities of faith and schools built by previous and present generations? These people had no part in these very sad events of the past. In justice and in charity, they should not be held responsible or even penalized.

It should also be repeated and clarified that even though the Diocese has taken legal action to protect its parishes from lawsuit damages, that does not mean we have not planned to meet the financial needs resulting from litigation. We have not conveyed diocesan properties or assets as such. In fact, we have sufficient diocesan assets to address possible forthcoming judgments. We also continue to review and study possibilities to resolve these very sad situations.

I know these times are so terribly hard and even testing of our faith. It is an immense challenge for me to answer all the needs of the faithful, to heal wounds and to avoid inflicting more pain and hurt, to preserve the rights of all and to keep the scales of justice in balance with charity. Please pray for me.

Invoking the intercession of our Mother Mary, Patroness of our Diocese under the title of the Immaculate Conception, I remain

Devotedly yours in Christ,

The Most Reverend Salvatore R. Matano
Bishop of Burlington

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