Catholic parishes within the Diocese of Antigonish are being told to contribute to an historic settlement agreement for survivors of sexual abuse.

 

As part of a series of meetings that were held in Sydney, Port Hawkesbury and Antigonish, parish council and parish finance committee members discussed how they will pay a settlement that could be as much as $15 million, despite already enduring hardships because of dwindling church attendance.

 

According to the diocese, no churches are expected to close. However it is unknown if other church assets, such as land or other properties, will be put up for sale.

 

Bill Jamael, president of St. Anthony Daniel parish council, said parishes were told they must contribute to the settlement, but said contributions will be based on what a parish can afford.

“This will come from monies that the parish has in its own possession -- from its own people, fundraising and whatnot,” Jamael said. “It’s going to be difficult for the different parishes to find the assets, but nevertheless the assets are there."

The Roman Catholic Church announced its settlement decision Aug. 7, a little more than a year after a class action suit was filed by Sydney resident Ronald Martin at the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia seeking compensation for himself and anyone else who had been sexually abused by priests in the diocese.

If the terms and conditions of the proposed settlement are validated by the Court during a hearing in Halifax, Sept. 10 and 11, anyone claiming to be a victim of a priest in the diocese from Jan. 1, 1950 to the present may be able to reach a confidential agreement with the diocese.