updated 10/8/2007 2:12:02 PM ET 2007-10-08T18:12:02

Bishop Robert Brom issued a memo this week asking priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego to contribute one month's salary to help pay for the recent $198.1 million sexual abuse settlement.

"We cannot ask of others what we are unwilling to do ourselves," Brom wrote in the memo to about 280 priests, whose monthly salary can be as much as $1,535, The San Diego Union-Tribune reported.

Catholics in the area will also receive letters asking them to make "a generous contribution," according to Brom's memo. Packets will be sent no later than Oct. 26 and will include letters from Brom and parish pastors, along with a return envelope.

The donation request is part of a new campaign called "Embracing Our Mission" and will be used to help "cover the expense involved in compassionate outreach to our brothers and sisters who suffered sexual abuse within the family of the church," the memo said.

The idea came from current priests who saw it as a gesture toward the 144 men and women who allege they were abused by clergy and church workers when they were minors.

"It's a way of kind of righting some of the injustices done to them and also start the healing process," said the Rev. Ned Brockhaus, pastor of St. John of the Cross in Lemon Grove. "A lot of us thought it would be a good gesture."

Some parishioners, however, were less than enthusiastic.

Judy Bethel, a Catholic and a San Diego resident, was reluctant to contribute. If Brom hadn't sought bankruptcy protection for the diocese in February, he could have settled the suits for less money, she said.

"I think he's asking us to bear the cost of his mistakes," Bethel said. "I for one am not willing to do this."

The average payout will be $1.38 million per victim according to the terms of the agreement announced Sept. 7. That average mirrors the settlement reached in the Los Angeles archdiocese in July.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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