United States: compensation for the victims of priestly pedophilia

Source: FSSPX News


The majority of victims of sexual abuse committed by the clergy have signed an agreement with the archdiocese of Boston for compensation of a sum of 85 million dollars (see DICI no. 81). Mediators will henceforth administer each case. Damages of 80,000 to 300,000 dollars will be decided according to the gravity of the case. A payment of 20,000 dollars is foreseen for members of the victims’ families.

Msgr. Sean P. O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston, relieved by the resolution of the sorrowful episode for his church, remarked, “much work remains to be done”. He stressed that the archdiocese of Boston remained committed to the cause of those abused and of all those who have been touched by this “terrible scandal”, considered by many as the worst in the history of the Catholic Church in the United States. From a financial perspective, The Boston Globe remarked, this amicable arrangement is the highest-known figure thus far spent by the American Church for victims of sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy.

At the beginning of October, Msgr. Wilton Gregory, Bishop of Belleville and President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, announced the approbation by the Vatican of a much larger working margin regarding the alienation of diocesan property. This led the new agency APIC to run the headline “The bishops will be able to sell more of the Church’s goods”.

Certain bishops are, in fact, confronted with heavy financial obligations following the lawsuits taken against their dioceses for the pedophile cases. On November 13, 2002, the bishops’ conference adopted, by a vote of 219 to 2, new norms fixing a maximum figure for the alienation of Church property. Until now, the bishops could sell properties up to a sum of 3 million dollars without special authorization from Rome. The request made to the Vatican, which must approve the maximum sum of alienations according to article 1292 of the Code of Canon Law, goes up to a figure of 5 million dollars for dioceses of less than 500,000 Catholics and 10 million dollars for other dioceses.

Finally the Vatican accorded alienations without special authorization on its part up to 2.5 million dollars or 5 million dollars, depending on whether the diocese had more or less than 500,000 faithful.