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Defining miracles downward

It’s positively pathetic what passes for a miracle these days.

At least by Shaun Cross’ definition, anyway.

Cross is an attorney for the Catholic Diocese of Spokane. On Wednesday, in a top-of-the-front-page story, the lawyer appeared ecstatic that every clergy sex-abuse victim involved in the diocese’s bankruptcy and all of its Catholic parishes voted to accept a $48 million bankruptcy settlement.

Cross dubbed the unanimity “a miracle.”

Well, praise the Lord and pass the collection plate.

Sorry, Shaun.

Call me old-school, but I have a more traditional view when it comes to the subject of divine intervention.

Walking on water?


Lazarus raised from the dead?


Water to wine? Feeding the multitude? Parting the Red Sea?

Miracle! Miracle! Miracle!

Al Sharpton and Don Imus sharing a cabin on a Carnival cruise this summer?

Yep. That would definitely qualify as a modern miracle.

But Cross is talking about the acceptance of a glacial-paced bankruptcy settlement that, if approved, will financially resolve the most shameful chapter in the Catholic Diocese of Spokane’s history.

This is really about perverted priests, child molesters and sexual deviates who robbed some of our youth of their innocence.

So call the settlement vote a hard-won compromise, if you will.

Call it a grudging meeting of the minds.

A miracle?

Not on your burning bush.

Am I being too hard on Cross? Maybe this is just a lawyer’s transparent and misguided effort at spin control.

I realize that nearly 250 votes were cast in favor of the deal. The voters included sex-abuse victims, parishes and church service providers.

And considering the factions involved and the acrimonious nature of the case, the unanimous vote does come as a bit of a surprise. The vote, according to the story, “may bolster the expected confirmation of the settlement and related bankruptcy plan by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Patricia Williams next week.”

Despite all the progress, Steve Barber isn’t exactly doing somersaults of joy.

Barber, allegedly molested by Patrick O’Donnell, a now-defrocked priest, was one of 161 people with abuse claims who were eligible to vote.

I believe in a less miraculous and more believable scenario: that victims went along with the proposed settlement more as a way to get on with their lives and put the years of frustration and legal wrangling behind them.

“Basically we were asked to accept the only thing they would give us,” Barber told Spokesman-Review reporter John Stucke.

My heart goes out to those who were preyed on by these two-legged monsters.

The emotional scars and psychological damage must be ghastly to bear.

I had a great childhood. I had loving parents.

My Scout leader was a fine fellow. I was never molested by a minister. I was never groped by a schoolteacher.

In other words, I have no clue when it comes to trying to comprehend the terrible travails of what Barber and the others say they went through.

But I do know this:

No legal settlement, no amount of cash can begin to undo their sufferings.

If it could, well, now, Mr. Cross, that really would be a miracle.