To the people of the Archdiocese:
On Friday, September 21, the bishops of Pennsylvania issued a joint statement pledging substantial new financial aid for victims of clergy sexual abuse in decades past. I want to underline our commitment to helping abuse survivors, whether their claims are time-barred or not.
Perennial critics of the Church may dismiss the bishops’ statement; this is a regrettable part of today’s ugly political environment. But our local Church has proven the sincerity and scope of her commitment since I arrived here as Archbishop seven years ago. In fact, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Victims’ Assistance Program has quietly served hundreds of abuse victims and their families for more than 15 years and underwritten their therapy and care in an amount totaling more than $18 million.
This outreach has been done without concern for the status of a survivor’s potential legal case or any risk of litigation. And we’re committed to dedicating substantially more resources to the task of helping survivors, unless destructive, retroactive statute of limitations legislation makes that impossible.
Civil litigation of formerly time-barred cases is a lengthy, bitter, and expensive process, typically involving years of court proceedings and appeals. The perpetrators of abuse are often deceased, and the overwhelming majority of people who bear the burden of any legal penalties are innocent current members of the Church. In many cases diocesan bankruptcy is the result, with parishes and ministries very much at risk.
Civil litigation also puts many millions of dollars in the hands of plaintiffs’ and defense attorneys — money better spent directly on survivor compensation and care. This is one of the reasons public institutions defend their very modest financial caps on abuse-related settlements so vigorously. No such caps apply for the Church.
To put it simply, we seek to build, or help to build, a fair and reasonable program to address the pain and prevalence of sexual abuse. We believe that any program of survivor support — whether private or public — must have neutral, experienced professionals to determine awards in an environment of complete transparency. It should focus on confidentiality at the request of victims but also ensure that they can tell their stories, which belong to them and must remain solely in their control.
Finally, the focus of the care should meet survivors where they are right now, and do everything possible to provide what each victim needs, helping them to heal and move forward in the best way possible.
With or without state action, the Archdiocese will substantially expand its on-going support for victims to compensate and care for as many survivors as possible. To that task, and the task of doing everything we can to cleanse the Church and her ministries of abuse in the future, we are fully committed.
Sincerely yours in Jesus Christ,
+Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Archbishop of Philadelphia
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Twice I’ve left the church out of disgust over all of this. On my second week back, instead of finding some kind of peace, I am smacked in the fact with it again. Leaving my personal thoughts about this whole ordeal aside for a moment, I wish to say that politics should be kept out of Mass. By everyone – from the Pope to the Pastor.There is enough political noise everywhere else…I would like it if at least Church was a safe place to go. And I go to Church to be with God, not to be told how to think. In regards to this abuse mess and healing…transparency is transparency and truth is truth. I was taught that sins of omission are just as bad as sins of commission! Withholding the truth is a lie, as is only telling selective parts of it. But then again, that’s how we got the Bible as we know it, isn’t it?!
I am a 66 year old Roman Catholic. I was raised in a very religious home, made the sacraments, attended mass without fail, went to Catholic grade school, high school, and college. My uncle is a retired priest in the Scranton Diocese. And I am disgusted with the Catholic Church. I’m not participating anymore.
The final straw was your letter to parishes this Sunday. Do you even think about this beyond the Archdiocese going broke? Imagine getting this letter: “Hi, I guess you know about me. The police are saying that I raped your [insert most beloved young relative] and a lot of people are mad at me , including you I guess. But look, that was a long time ago if it happened at all, and I’m not the same person. I have come to regret my wrongdoings, I pray a lot, and I use my money to support several important charities. If the district attorney has his way, my assets will be seized and I may even go to jail. That means that the people these charities support will suffer. How does this help anyone? How is this fair? I am willing to voluntarily make private reparations so that the government does not need to be involved, and I can protect my ability to do good in the world. I am already anguished by some things I’ve done and will not do them anymore. Why can’t that be the end of it? Please put in a good word for me so that I can continue my GOOD works.”
That’s how you sound to me. However, NOBODY is above the law, not even the Catholic Church. I’m not a religious scholar, but in my opinion all the charity from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia does not balance out with the lifetime anguish suffered by one sexually abused child.
Your solution is for us to pray. For what? Shorter victims’ memories? Better Church lawyers? Oh wait. I remember, and if we do, there will come a time when today’s anger and confusion are behind us. I know who is angry, but who do you think is confused?
Frank – where are you going to go? You don’t leave Jesus because of Judas.
The reason the bishops in PA do not like this proposed statue of limitation change is because it would only affect the Catholic Church and not other groups like Public Schools. The PA bishops have said over and over again, if the State would change the statue of limitation for ALL SEX ABUSE that would be different. But to only change it for non-profits and NOT to change public schools is an attempt to go after the Catholic Church.
It’s not about protecting all kids, because if it was, Public Schools (where more minors are abused) would be included.
Hello Phil – So you are basically saying I should shut up because I have no choice? That I have no path to Jesus outside of a Church that protects itself by protecting pedophiles. I hope Jesus doesn’t agree. By the way, who are you comparing to Judas in this case? I don’t think that it’s an excuse to say that “other groups are doing it too.” I hold the Church to a much higher standard.
I am angry also but instead of reacting I have learned in my two Twelve Step programs to act. I will not leave the sacraments. I left the church and then was a lukewarm Catholic. But deepening my commitment to do God’s will and not my own (which is what lead to addiction and thus to the 12 Step programs saved my life and my marriage). So… I have attended a panel on abuse which included a survivor who is a Deacon now, writing to the Vatican, talking to my parish priests and praying for the priests and bishops who have done nothing but are being painted with the brush of scandal. It is up to the laity to keep saying it is not enough until there is true transparency and the Curia is free from Medieval cover ups. I believe that Christ founded our church and I am staying with it through thick and thin.
Hi Cathe S, I read your comments and I believe that you are a most sincere person. I admire you for your faith and courage in battling the devils in your life, and I hope you will continue to be successful. If what you are doing now is your sincere way of dealing with the atrocities we have been made aware of, I wish you well and hope you can be an influence for good changes. I just don’t feel it will be enough. Archbishop Chaput’s 09/30 letter to parishes concludes with a request for prayer and support, and promises “if we do, there will come a time when today’s anger and confusion are behind us.” Like we can all just wait for the storm to blow over. This is not just something like a member of the clergy embezzling collection money for gambling. It can’t just be handled in-house, or as you would say, with Medieval cover ups.We can’t just wait for it to go away because it won’t. The one thing that will prompt the Church to do the things It needs (but doesn’t want) to do is a turning away of its membership. I did not make my decision on a whim, but after much thought and soul searching. I hope there is a day when it will no longer prove necessary.
John, I think that homosexuality and pedophilia are two different things. I personally know of priests who are gay and in a relationship with each other. Whatever consenting adults do is not my concern even though it does go to the question of celibacy. My disgust is with those who prey upon innocent children. Children should be allowed their innocence for as long as is possible. Also, the priest shortage can also be solved with changing the ordination rules to include married priests and women.
The road to healing isn’t a matter of throwing money at the problem. Rather, it starts with the Truth. For starters, members of the Church’s hierarchy (as well as others who have occupied positions of privilege and authority) must answer two very basic questions regarding Theodore “Uncle Ted” McCarrick: (1) “What did you know?” and (2) “When did you first learn of it?” The Archbishop and his Auxiliaries need to name names. Until then I will continue to withhold any financial support to the Archdiocese. (FYI – it is my understanding that a portion of your parish tithe will most likely go to the Archdiocese unless you specifically designate that tithe to something (e.g., the parish’s building and maintenance fund).)
I’m also not going to allow myself to get duped into calling my local state representative—as I was three years ago—to ask that he oppose any bill lifting the statute of limitations on claims of sexual abuse (lest anyone accuse me of being “anti-victim” because I’ve decided to withhold my family’s relatively meager donations to the Archdiocese). At least not until our leaders in the Church here in Philadelphia start naming names.
Why do think Archbishop Chaput can name names? According to the Vigno letter, McCarrick considered ++Chaput enemy number 1! It’s not very likely that our Archbishop has that kind of information, because McCarrick would not have included him.
The people we should be demanding answers from are Cardinals like Cupich, Tobin, & Wuerl who were part of the McCarrick’s inner circle.
I will only answer a question if I know the identity of the person asking it, assuming “Phil’s” wasn’t rhetorical…which it definitely should not be (because you know the old saying: “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me; fool me three times and now I’m a blissfully self-unaware, water-carrying apologist blinded by my own confirmation bias and cognitive dissonance”).
You are doing a good job. God will take care of the persons who are responsible for the abuse. The rosary, Confession, and the Eucharist will bring us through this time.
So now the bishops are pledging”new” aid….if the statute of limitations issue was not on PA’s radar screen would these ” new” funds have been available? I’m still trying to get a handle on what’s been paid out In legal settlements and Archdiocese legal fees vs. this Victims Compensation Fund we keep hearing about. Perhaps if the McCarrick issue was addressed wholely I would be more willing to listen to the hierarchy but nothing is clarified there either. A lot of tap dancing in Rome and Philadelphia.
The True healing must come from Christ through His Church. These people cannot find healing outside the Church. They can only find healing from faithful Priest and Bishops who have faith in Our Lord. Only Our Lord can heal these people.
Another smoke screen presented to us the laity. I am all for helping the victims. The problem is the abusers. No abusers=no victims= no compensation. These man need to be in jail, they are criminals.
How much is reimbursed by Insurance?
I’m glad that victims are being heard and in some very very meager way, FINALLY being heard and compensated with monies that should never have had to be distributed in such large proportion as to bankrupt a Diocese, but more, I would like more justice for them, exacting justice is what I’d want, to say the least! If I was a victim I wouldn’t want money, I’d want accountability! Let the guilty come forward and explain why and how this diabolical crisis has been allowed to take place in the first case! This would be a demand and I would accept nothing less. This is where I’m having the hardest time with men in the Church not owning up to the very crisis they have caused, but so willing to dish out other people’s money. I’d gladly pay a handsome sum to hear the guilty come forward!
Prison for every pedo priest and everyone who knew. Lifetime psychological help for victims.
If you care about what Jesus said (Matt 18:6-14)
Or keep doing what the devil would do.
Wait, does anyone actually think this will work and families and survivors will trust someone who has lobbied here in phila against the statute changing? The money isn’t coming from Rome, it’s coming from parishioners who have been lied to and duped as well. I will never step foot in another one of your buildings claiming Christ is your practice, when your actions show nothing Christ-like. The truth is out now for anyone looking to read and take it in…warning, take breaks and have a waste bucket handy, the lives lost and ruined are abundant and the church wants a quick fix swiped under the rug. Too late, time to wake fully
I would like to see the Archdiosease outwardly state their backing of any young seminarian or priest who feels they have been sexually harrasseed by a Priest of Bishop preying on them, to be able to sue the perpertrator for sexual harrassement. This would in my view nip it in the bud right from the begginning. If this is not a problem then I stand corrected but from what I am hearing in the Catholic Media, it is.
Let me count the ways you are misguided in this letter:
“Perennial critics of the Church may dismiss the bishops’ statement; this is a regrettable part of today’s ugly political environment.” – We are not dismissing the bishops’ statement due to today’s ugly political environment. Why should we trust the bishops who in the past hid the abuse? This has nothing to do with today’s political climate. It is the hierarchy’s fault that the church is in the state it is in today – lay the blame where it belongs, Your Excellency.
“This outreach has been done without concern for the status of a survivor’s potential legal case or any risk of litigation.” – A blatantly false statement, Your Excellency
“In many cases diocesan bankruptcy is the result, with parishes and ministries very much at risk.” – Maybe this will force our Church to re-structure and re-think how it is organized, how it recruits and educates young men for the Priesthood, why it doesn’t allowed married or women priests – maybe it’s the Holy Spirit leading the Church to a new beginning by bringing down the old hierarchy? I say let the victim’s speak in a court of law. The Church’s court has done very little for them.
I come from a family of 4 siblings – 2 of whom were abused by priests. It’s time, Your Excellency, to clean house and face the music.
Linda, please make sure you understand that the abuse was caused by homosexual men that should not have been in the priesthood. And that the liberal bishops covered the abuse to draw attention to the homosexual agenda.
Let’s be fair. Archbishop Chaput isn’t one of the Bishops accused of cover up. He never has been. Not in Philly, Denver or Rapid City. He’s the one who has to deal with the mess caused by people in the past.
Philly had it’s day in court back in 2004-2012. Nothing here is new, this is what the archdiocese has been dealing with for many years now. But now that the rest of PA was investigated, the state wants to go after Philly again, which isn’t right.
Why is PA not investigating ALL religions? Why not investigate all non-profits who work with kids? Why not investigate all schools (public and private)?
The proposed statue of limitations change in PA will NOT protect all children, as it will not change public schools. If they are going to remove the statue of limitations, it should be removed FOR EVERYONE, not just the Catholic church.
I understand the need to compensate victims, but where is the money for the financial aid coming from? My weekly donations? Catholic Charities?
I am under the assumption that 5% of your weekly tithing goes to the archdiocese and that goes towards victims compensation.