HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP/KDKA) – Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses are starting to announce details about victim compensation funds they’re setting up, nearly three months after a sweeping grand jury report documented decades of child sexual abuse by priests in the state.
The archdiocese of Philadelphia and the dioceses of Harrisburg, Scranton and Allentown on Thursday disclosed some information. The Erie Diocese says it’s setting up a fund, but isn’t ready to disclose details.
Bishop David Zubik says the Diocese of Pittsburgh will set up a similar compensation fund. He says the specifics of the program will be announced by the end of the year. The diocese opened a similar fund in 2007.
In a statement, Bishop Zubik said: “It is my hope that a program to compensate survivors of abuse by clergy will continue to aid in their healing and the healing of the Church, the Body of Christ.”
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Leaders from Catholic Diocese of Greensburg say the fund will be financed with diocesan assets, and not parish assets.
The announcements don’t mention a total dollar amount or maximum individual payout.
In statements, the dioceses describe sources for the money, including borrowing, property sales, investments and insurers.
A legislative effort to change state law to allow a 2-year window for people to sue in abuse cases that are otherwise too old to pursue was blocked by Republican state senators last month.
State Attorney General Josh Shapiro issued this statement on the proposed compensation fund:
“It’s now clear that the Dioceses acknowledge the Grand Jury accurately unearthed horrific and extensive abuse and cover up and, as a result, victims deserve compensation no matter when their abuse happened. However, the Grand Jury recommended that victims deserve their day in court – not that the church should be the arbiter of its own punishment. These undefined compensation funds do not give a pass to lawmakers – the Legislature should return to Harrisburg, do their jobs and pass the Grand Jury’s four reforms.”
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