Property Sales to Fund Church Payout
No Money from Collection Plates, Archdiocese Says

By Tom Beyerlein
Dayton Daily News [Cincinnati OH]
Downloaded November 29, 2003

The money that parishioners put in collection plates won't be used for the $3 million victims compensation fund that's being created by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati as part of its plea bargain last week on criminal charges related to the priest sex abuse scandal, a spokesman said Monday.

Instead, the money will come "largely from property sales" as the archdiocese sells surplus real estate, spokesman Dan Andriacco said. Because the archdiocese has sold some excess property in recent months and the proceeds are available, it might not need to sell additional property to build the fund, he said.

"Probably more significant than where (the money) is coming from is where it's not coming from," Andriacco said, adding that the funds won't be taken from parish collections, the archbishop's annual fund drive or the Catholic inner-city schools fund.

"People don't have to worry that money that they put into the collection plate is going to find its way into this fund," he said. "We don't want people to be contributing to the fund if they don't want to."

Andriacco said the archdiocese periodically sells property it doesn't plan to develop. He said "we will not mortgage our future" by selling real estate that might be needed to build the fund.

The fund was set at $3 million because that's the most a bishop can spend on a single project without a lengthy Vatican approval process, Andriacco said. The fund was part of a plea bargain Thursday in Hamilton County under which the archdiocese as an entity was found guilty of five misdemeanor counts of failure to report felony child sexual abuse by priests and other workers from 1978 to 1982.

The archdiocese could announce today its appointee to a three-member panel that will apportion the $3 million among victims of child sexual abuse by priests. Another member is to be appointed by the Hamilton County Prosecutor's Office, and a chairman will be appointed by the other two members. Victims may apply for compensation during a six-month period next year, Andriacco said.

"It's going to be a matter of dividing up a set pie," Andriacco said. "It's pretty subjective, really. There's nobody who can pay you back for your childhood if you've been abused as a child. Nobody can put a price on what that's worth."

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