New York cardinal announces new compensation program for abuse survivors


NEW YORK (CNS) — New York
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said Oct. 6 he hopes a new archdiocesan program to
provide compensation to survivors of clergy sexual abuse will “help bring a
measure of peace and healing” to those victims.

He announced the new voluntary
Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program for those who have survived
abuse by priests or deacons of the archdiocese.

At a news conference, he said
that while the Catholic Church, and the New York Archdiocese in particular, “has
made great strides” in addressing abuse, “we continue to hear from
victim-survivors that more needs to be done to reach out to those who have been
hurt in the past.”

Cardinal Dolan noted that New
York church officials have been working with 10 district attorneys who serve in
the area covered by the archdiocese, which has dismissed clergy found guilty of
abuse and put in place safe environment programs to prevent abuse.

The new program is “another step”
in efforts “to respond to the past scourge of sexual abuse of minors by clergy,”
the archdiocese said in a news release.

The cardinal named Kenneth
Feinberg, a well-known attorney who specializes in mediation and alternative-dispute
resolution, to administer the new program. He will be assisted by his colleague
Camille Biros.

In 2014, Feinberg and Biros led the
victim-compensation team set up by automaker General Motors after a flawed
ignition switch in some of its cars led to the deaths of 124 people and
injuries for another 275 people. Feinberg was charged with compensating the
injured and the families of those who died.

The New York Archdiocese said Feinberg
and Biros will have complete autonomy in deciding compensation for
victim-survivors. Cardinal Dolan said the archdiocese “will respect and honor
any decision they make regarding compensation for those who suffered abuse by a
member of the clergy of this archdiocese.”

The archdiocese said it has
already begun reaching out to victim-survivors who have previously notified the
archdiocese that they had suffered abuse by a member of its clergy, and they
have been asked to participate in the first phase of the program.

Once the first phase is
completed, Feinberg and Biros will begin the second phase, which means they
will review new allegations brought against known offenders “as well as new
allegations brought against clergy who have not previously been alleged to have
engaged in misbehavior,” the archdiocese said.

“Anyone bringing forward a new
allegation will be required to follow the policy of the archdiocese to notify
the appropriate district attorney’s office, so that they might determine if a
crime has been committed. Such allegations will also be investigated by
independent professionals and examined by the archdiocesan lay review board,”
the archdiocese said.

To cover the cost of
compensating victims, the archdiocese said it will take out a long-term loan.
It “will not use money given by the people of the archdiocese to support
parishes, schools and charitable works,” the news release said. None of the
funds to be paid to victims will be taken from the annual stewardship appeal, a
new capital campaign called Renew and Rebuild or from any money given by a
donor “for a specific ministry or apostolate.”

Others have been named to an independent
committee to oversee the new program’s implementation and administration: former
New York Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly; U.S. District Judge Loretta A.
Preska, and Dr. Jeanette Cueva, an associate clinical professor of psychiatry
at Columbia University and an expert in child psychiatry.

“We have been told, time and
again, by victim-survivors that they are not principally interested in money,
but instead are seeking some tangible sign of the church’s desire for healing
and reconciliation,” Cardinal Dolan said in his statement.

“As this Year of Mercy nears its
conclusion,” he said, “it is only appropriate that we take this opportunity to
follow Pope Francis and once again ask forgiveness for whatever mistakes may
have been made in the past by those representing the church, even by us bishops,
and continue to seek reconciliation with those who have been harmed and feel
alienated from the church.”

– – –

Copyright © 2016 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. All rights reserved. Republishing or redistributing of CNS content, including by framing or similar means without prior permission, is prohibited. You may link to stories on our public site. This copy is for your personal, non-commercial use only. To request permission for republishing or redistributing of CNS content, please contact permissions at

Original Article