Abuse victim Clarita Vargas, of the Colville Tribe, speaks at a Friday news conference in Seattle on one of the largest settlements to date in the Catholic sexual-abuse crisis. "My spirit was wounded," Vargas said, describing abuse by the Rev. John Morse, seen in the photo behind her. (COURTNEY BLETHEN RIFFKIN / The Seattle Times)

Bankrupt Catholic Order Pays Natives $166 Million for Decades of Abuse


Between the 1940s and the 1990s, children at boarding schools ranging from remote Alaskan villages to those on northwestern tribal lands faced sexual, physical or psychological abuse from Jesuit missionaries, reported Reuters.

On March 25, the approximately 524 victims in the five-state area, most of them American Indians and Alaska Natives, received some justice in the form of $166.1 million--the third largest settlement in the Roman Catholic Church's sexual-abuse saga and the largest ever by a single Catholic religious order, reported the Daily Mail. Insurance companies will pay $118 million of the settlement, with the Jesuits paying $48.1 million, reported The Seattle Times. The Jesuit order ran schools in villages and on reservations throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.

The payout by the bankrupt order of priests called the Northwest Jesuits, formerly known as the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, is part of the church's efforts to resolve its bankruptcy case. The Jesuits applied for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2009 due to increased litigation from sexual abuse claims, reported Reuters.

Along with monetary reparations, the order will no longer refer to the victims as "alleged victims," and it will write formal apologies to them. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops emphasized its firm commitment to permanently remove "from public ministry any priest who committed such an intolerable offense," reported the Catholic News Service.

"It's a day of reckoning and justice," said Clarita Vargas, 51, of Tacoma, Washington, reported  The Seattle Times. Vargas suffered abuse as a student at St. Mary's Mission and School, a former Jesuit-run Indian boarding school on the Colville Indian Reservation, in the late 1960s and early 1970s, beginning when she was 6 or 7, she told the Daily Mail. "My spirit was wounded, and this makes it feel better," Vargas told the Daily Mail.

"No amount of money can bring back a lost childhood, a destroyed culture or a shattered faith," lawyer Blaine Tamaki, representing about 90 victims in the settlement, said in a statement, reported Reuters. "This settlement recognizes that the Jesuits betrayed the trust of hundreds of young children in their care. These religious figures should have been responsible for protecting children, but instead raped and molested them."

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wanbli's picture
Submitted by wanbli on
The Calolic Church is a false Christ! Every First Nation Res needs to remove them from our treaty lands. The Catholic Church on rez lands need to be burn down! We need more wagon burners.

gamma's picture
Submitted by gamma on
Wait. sexual, physical and psychological abuse? How can that be? How can that be? Oh, how can that be. For Charles Trimble says boarding schools were great, he has wonderful memories of them, no one was ever beaten, they were like heaven. In fact, a hundred years from now, when the Wasichus write the final book on Indians, one of the chapters will be "Faith and Begorrah at an Indian Boarding School" by Charles Trimble in an ancient issue of Indian Country Today. And the history books will forever say what wonderful, delightful and heavenly places those boarding schools were, thanks to Trimble. Missionaries raping and molesting children? Modern-day Custers like Charles Trimble will tell you that is fiction.

tmsyr11's picture
Submitted by tmsyr11 on
Not every-one (friar, sister, fathers, etc.) are all that bad....in fact, they actually served the purpose of their Holy Orders and did have an impact to Indian communities!

skinu's picture
Submitted by skinu on
read the saturdays great falls,mt tribune on this story and my blog you'll see what needs to be said ,read it i dare you to