Bishop William Skylstad released this statement Friday to The Spokesman-Review:
The Diocese of Spokane has been, and continues to be, dedicated to transparency and openness. Any time a credible accusation of abuse is received against a living priest of this diocese, the diocese has in place a specific procedure and protocol for handling such a claim. That includes reporting to the proper law enforcement authorities, review by our own independent Diocesan Review Board, and suspension of the priest from ministry until such time as the accusation can be investigated and acted upon. If the accusation is substantiated, and the Review Board makes the recommendation, I remove that priest permanently from ministry. If the priest is exonerated, as was the case with Father Dan Wetzler in 2003, the priest is returned to ministry. If a victim makes a credible accusation against a deceased priest, at the request of the victim, that priest’s identity is announced publicly.
As part of the Proof of Claim process in the bankruptcy, accusations have been made against a small number of priests still serving in the diocese. Those accusations have been adamantly denied by the priests in question, are not credible, and will be vigorously defended by our legal team in the Claims Review process. The details of those accusations, including the names of the accusers and the accused, are part of the confidential record of the Chapter 11, and are confidential by order of the Court. For anyone to violate the clear intention of the Court is simply wrong.
Just as the diocese has striven to be sensitive to, and protect the personal privacy of, the victims, so we have striven to protect the good name of those subjected to false accusations.
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