Com­pen­sa­tion for clergy sex­ual abuse sur­vivors

The Oneida Daily Dispatch (Oneida, NY) - - Localnews - By The Dis­patch Staff news­room@onei­dadis­patch.com @Onei­daDis­patch on Twit­ter

SYRA­CUSE, N.Y. » The Syra­cuse Dio­cese will be­gin of­fer­ing com­pen­sa­tion to sur­vivors of clergy sex­ual abuse with the es­tab­lish­ment of an In­de­pen­dent Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­pen­sa­tion Pro­gram.

“Over the past year, we have mon­i­tored the IRCP in the Arch­dio­cese of New York, the Dio­cese of Brook­lyn and the Dio­cese of Rockville Cen­tre. The re­sponse from sur­vivors and their fam­i­lies has been ex­tremely pos­i­tive,” said Bishop Robert J. Cun­ning­ham. “We know and ac­knowl­edge that we can­not re­verse the dam­age that was done but our hope is that this new ef­fort will pro­vide an op­por­tu­nity to seek for­give­ness for the ir­repara­ble acts of the past and per­haps, bring a sense of heal­ing to some.”

The pro­gram will be ad­min­is­tered by Ken­neth Fein­berg and Camille Biros, both well-known for their ex­pe­ri­ence in me­di­a­tion and ad­min­is­tra­tion of com­pen­sa­tion pro­grams for the sur­vivors of the 9/11 tragedy, the BP oil spill and most re­cently the IRCP pro­grams of­fered in the three down­state dio­ce­ses.

Serv­ing as in­de­pen­dent ad­min­is­tra­tors, Fein­berg and Biros will work with those who have pre­vi­ously no­ti­fied the dio­cese that they had been harmed by a mem­ber of the clergy. Th­ese in­di­vid­u­als will be con­tacted by let­ter to in­vite them to par­tic­i­pate in this vol­un­tary pro­gram. Fein­berg and Biros re­tain com­plete and sole dis­cre­tion over all el­i­gi­bil­ity agree­ments and set­tle­ment com­pen­sa­tion amounts for the el­i­gi­ble in­di­vid­u­als. The dio­cese will ac­cept their de­ter­mi­na­tions with­out ques­tion.

“There is no ques­tion we have made mis­steps in han­dling this cri­sis,” Cun­ning­ham said. “How­ever, over the past 15 years, the Dio­cese of Syra­cuse has ad­dressed this prob­lem ag­gres­sively by re­port­ing all al­le­ga­tions to the ap­pro- pri­ate district at­tor­ney, en­sur­ing that no clergy with a cred­i­ble al­le­ga­tion of abuse re­mains in min­istry, and prevent­ing acts of abuse through our highly suc­cess­ful Safe En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gram. Sur­vivors have been pro­vided coun­sel­ing, spir­i­tual di­rec­tion and other sup­port to help them find ways to move for­ward. As we be­gin this Len­ten sea­son, we must con­tinue to seek for­give­ness as a church and seek rec­on­cil­i­a­tion for those who have been hurt.”

“In ad­min­is­ter­ing this pro­gram in now four dio­ce­ses, we have wit­nessed the re­ac­tion of the sur­vivors. They have seen the church’s de­sire to right the wrongs of the past,” said Fein­berg.

The to­tal cost of the pro­gram will be paid from the Dio­cese of Syra­cuse’s gen­eral li­a­bil­ity in­surance pro­gram. The dio­cese will not use any money given by the peo­ple of the dio­cese to sup­port parishes, schools, the an­nual Hope Ap­peal, the Foun­da­tion of the Ro­man Catholic Dio­cese, the Cathe­dral Restora­tion Fund, Catholic Char­i­ties or any other char­i­ta­ble fund in the dio­cese.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the In­de­pen­dent Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­pen­sa­tion pro­gram, visit www.Syra­cuseDio­ce­seIRCP.com.

Bishop Robert J. Cun­ning­ham

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