Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez issued the following letter June 2 to all faithful of the Philadelphia Archdiocese on the release of the final report of the archdiocesan Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program. See the report here, plus full news coverage here.
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has a longstanding commitment to preventing child abuse, protecting the young people entrusted to its care, and providing support for those who suffered sexual abuse at the hands of our clergy. I am deeply sorry for the profound pain those victims endured. While we cannot undo the past, we can ensure that our response to the scourge of child sexual abuse is comprehensive, far-reaching, and permanent.
As part of that response, the Archdiocese established the Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program (IRRP) in November 2018. This initiative was undertaken to supplement the work of the Archdiocesan Victim Assistance Program, which has been ongoing since 2002. It provided an opportunity for survivors to share their experiences, identify their abusers, access support resources, and receive meaningful compensation. Every effort undertaken aimed to assist their healing and recovery process.
I am pleased to share that the IRRP recently concluded and that its impact has been tremendously positive. Its operations were free from Archdiocesan direction. The program was administered by nationally renowned claims experts, Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros, who retained the latitude to make final determinations regarding all claims. All claimants also had the option of receiving support from Lynn Shiner, the IRRP’s Victim Support Facilitator and former Director of the Office for Victims’ Services at the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.
The autonomy of the program was ensured by an Independent Oversight Committee (IOC), which monitored its work. That IOC was chaired successively by the Honorable George J. Mitchell, former United States Senate Majority Leader, and the Honorable Lawrence F. Stengel (Ret.), former Chief Judge for the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. Kelley Hodge, former Interim District Attorney for the City and County of Philadelphia, also served as a member along with Charles P. Scheeler, Esquire, Retired Partner of DLA Piper.
Over the past three and a half years, the IOC has issued periodic public reports highlighting the progress of the IRRP. Today, the final report was issued. It notes that a total of 812 individuals came forward with 623 electing to submit formal claims. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia paid $78,465,000 to resolve 438 of those claims fully. Of the remainder, 144 claims were denied by the administrators; 21 claimants rejected the offer made by the administrators; 15 claimants did not complete the process by the deadline; 3 claims remain pending with the administrators; and 2 claimants withdrew from the process.
The financial resources required to fund the IRRP’s obligations were clearly substantial. The Archdiocese fully funded them through the sale of assets, borrowing, and risk mitigation payments from ecclesiastical entities. As promised, donor restricted funds from gifts made to the Archdiocese and its related entities were not used for IRRP purposes.
I am deeply grateful to the extraordinary individuals who worked to make the IRRP a reality and to ensure that we assisted as many survivors as possible. You can find complete copies of all IRRP progress reports at www.AOPPledgetoProtect.com along with detailed information about the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s steadfast efforts to prevent child abuse and maintain safe environments for young people in our parishes, schools, and ministerial outreach programs.
I firmly believe that through vigilance, employing best practices, and education, the Church in Philadelphia will remain at the forefront of protection and prevention. Although the work of the IRRP has concluded, the Archdiocese will continue to offer comprehensive support to survivors of clergy sexual abuse through its own Victim Assistance Program as it has for many years. May God bless you.
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend Nelson J. Pérez, D. D.
Archbishop of Philadelphia
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