Pennsylvania's Bishops Agree on Victim Fund for Sexual Abuse

In the aftermath of Pennsylvania’s massive Catholic diocese sexual abuse scandal, the state’s bishops have come together with a plan to compensate victims - but, it seems, at the expense of other victims.

Bishops Fear Bankruptcy of Church Due to Sexual Abuse Lawsuits

According to a release posted on a website for the Pittsburgh Catholic Conference on Friday, the Pennsylvania bishops have come together and agreed to support an independent sex abuse survivor’s compensation program to help those who have been devastated by the so-called “predatory priests” described in a recent grand jury report covering decades of abuse in several dioceses throughout the state. The bishops’ proposal includes a panel of qualified experts who would review individual cases for compensation and determine the financial compensation suitable for the victim.

However, the bishops also stated that another proposal, now under consideration in the Pennsylvania legislature, should not move forward. This proposal includes an extension of the statute of limitations to allow victims two additional years from the date on which the legislation might pass to bring suits against perpetrators, no matter how far back the abuse goes. The bishops suggested that such a deluge of sexual abuse lawsuits against the Church could potentially bankrupt the Church.

“Bankruptcy would cripple the ability of a diocese to provide compensation and healing for survivors, while vastly reducing or eliminating social service programs that greatly benefit all Pennsylvanians by serving some of the most at-risk people in our communities,” the bishops wrote. “We cannot undo the harm that childhood sexual abuse has caused, but in humility and repentance we hope the path forward offers a way toward healing for survivors and their families.”

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