To the people and clergy of the Church in Philadelphia:
As many of you will remember, less than two months ago each of the Catholic bishops of Pennsylvania pledged to offer substantial new sources of support for survivors of clergy sexual abuse. In the weeks since then, we’ve worked zealously to keep that promise. Today in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, we are honoring that pledge, with a special concern for victims burdened by time-barred claims.
The damage done to innocent young people and their families by sexual abuse in the past is profound. It can’t be erased by apologies, no matter how sincere. And money can’t buy back a wounded person’s wholeness. But what compensation can do is acknowledge the evil done and meaningfully assist survivors as they work to find greater peace in their lives.
To that end, I’m announcing today the creation of a new reparations program available to anyone abused in the past by clergy of the archdiocese. This “Independent Reconciliation and Reparations” effort will be funded by the Archdiocese. We will pay the amounts that independent claims administrators deem appropriate.
While the total number of claims and the ultimate funding required cannot be known at this time, the financial commitment from the Archdiocese will be significant. Initial funding for the program will be provided by existing Archdiocesan assets. Additional program funding will need to come from borrowing and the sale of archdiocesan properties. Which properties will be sold has not yet been determined.
Note that no money to fund the program will come from our Catholic Charities Appeal, Seminary Appeal, other donor-designated funds or donations made to parishes, ministries, and schools.
This new program will be separate from, and add to, our already existing survivor-assistance efforts. The good work of the Archdiocese’s Office of Child and Youth Protection, led by Leslie Davila, a former victim-assistance officer with the Philadelphia District Attorney and a victim’s advocate for 19 years, will continue. Ms. Davila’s team has provided more than $18 million of assistance to victims already, and again to be clear, today’s new compensation program is in addition to those efforts.
I want to turn now to the new compensation program and some of its details.
At the very start of our efforts to create a new private reparations program, we consulted Ms. Lynn Shiner. Ms. Shiner is a survivor of violent crime herself and has spent her 22-year career as a victim’s advocate in Pennsylvania working with and on behalf of survivors of all types of abuse. Ms. Shiner was the director of the Pennsylvania Office of Victims’ Services, and she oversaw Pennsylvania’s public victim compensation program. Under her direction, this state fund has distributed more than $100 million to victims.
With Ms. Shiner’s guidance, we designed our program based on input from dozens of victims about what they expect and need from such an effort. Ms. Shiner has generously agreed to be an ongoing part of this program’s work. She will be the Victim Support Facilitator and will be available to help survivors in coming forward, presenting their claims, and finding appropriate services within and outside of the Church.
This program, however, is about more than compensation of victims. It’s also about apologizing to victims, recognizing the harm the Church has done, and continuing the critical work to ensure abuse is prevented. The program will include an independent review of our current policies, input on our training programs, and recommendations for steps toward increased emotional and spiritual healing in our community.
This reconciliation and reparations effort needs to be, and will be, independent of the Church. Leaders in our community who have impeccable credentials will administer it. To assure this autonomy, an Independent Oversight Committee, chaired by former U.S. Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell, will supervise the effort. Joining Senator Mitchell on the committee will be Kelley Hodge, former Interim District Attorney for the City and County of Philadelphia; and Lawrence F. Stengel (Ret.), former Chief Judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.
Victims’ advocates have stressed that the program must allow survivors to receive redress quickly without burdensome administrative or court-type procedures. When we canvassed the country for the very best claims administrators, it quickly became clear that Mr. Kenneth R. Feinberg and Ms. Camille S. Biros, two nationally recognized experts, are extraordinary at this work and have now developed special experience working with multiple dioceses. Mr. Feinberg and Ms. Biros will administer all aspects of the claims process, under the supervision of the Oversight Committee. These administrators will have complete authority to determine eligibility of individual claims and the amount of reparations for survivors who come forward.
I need to emphasize again that this effort is entirely independent of the Archdiocese and is confidential. The program is designed to help survivors come forward in an atmosphere where they are secure and respected, without the uncertainty, conflict, and stress of litigation. On November 13, Senator Mitchell and the team involved in this effort will hold a separate press conference providing full details and answering any questions on the program. I invite our news media and the general public to listen carefully to what they say.
I want to thank these extraordinary public leaders for their service in this work to repair the damage of the past and ease the suffering of survivors and their families.
Finally and most importantly: I deeply regret the pain that so many victims carry from the experience of sex abuse. I hope this program will bring them a measure of peace.
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Archbishop Chaput is a man of admirable qualities and one of the best leaders in our American Catholic Church. But until he and men like him openly condemn homosexuality as a sin and scourge of our church and of society, and strongly advocate for the purge of homosexuals from the priesthood, our church will be bled white financially, spiritually; of property and parishioners.
Didn’t we the parishioners fund and maintain some of these properties to be sold off? Where will the interest payments originate for the “borrowing”? Of course we will be paying for this squalor that these rich-robed bishops allowed to permeate The Church. To state otherwise is a bold-faced lie. Let’s open all the books for the last 50 years to see exactly where our donations went. Sick of the “move along-nothing to see here” philosophy of our clerics. Do what’s right for the abused and what’s left of your parishioners. Or do you need more meetings, subcommittees and titles to figure that out. Disgraceful…and sad.
Enough of these payoffs for healing purposes! Clean the swamp. All the sodomites must be layisized. Seriously how complicated is that? Enough is enough!!
Every one of the bishop’s and cardnal’s mansions and palaces should be sold off before one Parish is touched.
With all the respect your office demands, these efforts are hollow. You (should) publicly account and explain when and what you knew about Cardinal McCarrick and fully explain why you played the game and remained silent. Why were you not enraged at the thought of seminarians being subject to predatory behavior? Why didn’t you use your office, the pulpit, and your position in Jesus’ church to do whatever was necessary to stop him and his reprehensible behavior towards seminarians? Why do you have no problem calling out lay people who criticize bishops on the internet, but failed to act when one of your fellow bishops is inflicting real harm on a seminarian? Shame on you and all the other “orthodox” bishops who give your inspiring talks at the Napa Institute and Notre Dame and then sit by idly as seminarians are harassed and a gay subculture flourishes at the top. Until you man up and come clean, you remain part of the problem and your efforts to helps victims remains a publicity stunt and offensive.
I was the victim of a false allegation in 1998 and my parish priest nor the archdiocese did nothing to help me even though I had been a CCD teacher at my parish and an usher. I did ask for spiritual help but my pastor just lied to me saying he would support me but never did. With prayer and support from my family and friends, ten months later I was exonerated. I did think my Church would support me but I guess they were afraid and not very courageous. I will not support giving any money to help these so-called victims of molestation because that won’t help them recover, if they haven’t by now which they should have. In fact I just might decrease my weekly giving to our parish, OLHC, and give it to pro life organizations, so that my money isn’t given to these so-called victims who only want money!!
Archbishop Chaput is one of the few, perhaps only, American Bishops who is willing to publicly verbalize the truth and wisdom. His advice to postpone the recent idiocy of a “Youth” Synod took courage. He’s dealing, now, with a crisis in the only way he can that is, liquidating the patrimony of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in order to placate the public and, hopefully, make up for the damage caused by his predecessors.
This is not something to celebrate or congratulate. It is a tragedy. Imagine the sacrifices that the faithful of past generations made in order to obtain, build and maintain the properties that will have to be liquidated to fund this program. A program made necessary by the very prelates and pastors who solicited the donations in the first place.
Archbishop Chaput has been forced into the position of presiding over the orderly liquidation of the Archdiocese and that’s a sad thing, not a happy one or something to be celebrated. But the saddest thing is that no one in the hierarchy, all the way to and including the Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church will face the real issue: homosexuality in the clergy and enablement by the hierarchy. The fact that Fr. McTouchy got out of control in 1947 is a bad thing. The fact that Cardinal McTouchy is looking the other way, or worse, participating in homoerotic adventures with seminarians in 2018 is one heck of a lot worse. Perhaps the Catholic Church in and from Africa can save Catholicism. It is on its last legs in the west.
Clericalism has undoubtedly helped homosexual clergy cover their tracks, but clericalism is NOT what’s motivating priests to abuse teen boys and each other. I’ve read estimates ranging from 35% to 60% of Catholic clergy are homosexual, far beyond the rate of the general population. It’s not PC to acknowledge that homosexuals are responsible for the homosexual abuse, but until we do, this problem isn’t going away. If we are to have any properties left that we can pass on to future generations, homosexually within the clergy must be addressed.
In other words, everything will be done except what is essential — namely, to investigate the allegations brought forward by Archbishop Vigano, and to remove from office everyone who has committed sexual abuse or enabled it, up to and including (the pope). Are these other initiatives “steps in the right direction,” in the meanwhile? No. What good does it do to tear the leaves off of a tree, while watering it at the root?
Any response involving money is the wrong response. It solves nothing, causes more harm to all parties involved (except lawyers), and traps victims in a woe-is-me state of being. And on a side note, the thought of extending the statute of limitations is abhorrent.
So what would be your solution Daniel? Pray for us more? “A woe is me state of being” being induced by a financial settlement? I am insulted.
We want transparency in these issues. Release all the files in the secret archives. Publicly release the names of ALL abusers and those who covered it up.
It is apparent from some comments that there continues to be a lack of TRUST from everyday Catholics in their Hierarchy, no matter what they propose to do to “stop the bleeding” – this, unfortunately, is understandable – it is an extremely complex matter. I applaud the Archbishop’s proposal, but will await confirmation in the future that the plan is working and effective. At the Universal Church level, I don’t yet see such substantive actions !
Thank you Archbishop Chaput, you’re one of the good guys. When you see Archbishop Sample this weekend, ask him about the Book of Gomorrah I gave him at the Catholic Men’s Conference- especially what I wrote in the front cover.
Good for you Archbishop Charles, if the majority of the Synod attendees chose to avoid discussion of what should have been the most important topic for discussions, they essentially send a message, possibly “if we don’t talk about it, maybe it will go away” . Either that is the message, or they simply don’t want to deal with it. Their lack of interest could drive more people away from Catholicism, and THAT will be theirs to account for one day.
Looks like another diversion from the only real way of providing justice for the clergy abuse victims – to extend the statute of limitations in Pennsylvania with a two year window to allow the victims to file suit. This new measure seems a sleazy attempt to hush the victims with smaller payments than they would receive by filing suit. Who paid the legal bills to stop the release of the Grand Jury Report? Who pressured state legislators – behind our backs – not to extend the statute of limitations? Can anyone honestly trust the Archdiocese administration not to fund this new program with our parish contributions? Sorry, NO SALE!
A great and positive step toward healing past wounds. Thankyou Archbishop and the Philly Archdiocese.
Thank you. That’s the best response I’ve heard to mitigate this nightmare.
God bless you.
I am upset that what people gave years ago is now being sold to pay for this mess. I understand the reasons for it. However is was done by priests and covered up by priests in the name of the church. Maybe taking the pensions of priests to pay for this would be a start. Then any assets they own should be sold off. This is hard but you can not tell me that other priests did not know, and did not go to the police and reports their brother priests.
This is good.