By Kevin Roy
Chicago's Catholic archdiocese agreed Tuesday to pay more than $12.7 million to settle lawsuits by 16 victims of sexual abuse by priests dating back to 1962.
"My hope is that these settlements will help the survivors and their
families begin to heal and move forward," Cardinal Francis George
said in a statement in which he also offered an apology for the abuse.
Fourteen of the cases involve sexual abuse by 10 different priests, and two relate to the Rev. Daniel J. McCormack, who pleaded guilty last year to having abused as many as five children at a West Side parish. In all, 11 priests and one Catholic school principal are named in the collection of suits.
The archdiocese has now settled four of the five lawsuits stemming from abuse by Father McCormack.
McCormack is charged with molesting boys at Chicago's St. Agatha Parish during 2001 and 2005.
Cardinal George issued yet another apology for the victims of priest sexual abuse dating back decades.
"I apologize again today to the survivors and their families and to the whole Catholic community," George said in his statement.
"We must continue to do everything in our power to ensure the safety of the children in our care," he said.
The settlements were reached through a mediation process in which the cardinal himself gave a lengthy deposition.
Attorney Jeff Anderson, who represented some of the victims, praised the mediation process that arrived at the settlements and said in a statement that the cardinal was "actively involved in this process."
"He has demonstrated his commitment to healing these survivors," Anderson said.
Cardinal George said Tuesday he hopes the settlement will help comfort the victims.
"I think the Church is certainly wounded by this, how greatly, I don't know, nor do I know if anybody else knows exactly, but you talk anecdotally to people. For others, especially for the seminarians, it's been a moment of clarity," said George.
"In these kind of cases, there are no winners. But certainly these are settlements that I think all hope play a role in helping these victims and helping them move forward with their lives," said Thomas Gibbons, mediator.
The settlement will come from sales of archdiocese assets and the victims
could be compensated within weeks.
The president of the Survivors' Network of those abused by priests released a statement. Barbara Blaine praised the victims for insisting "that secret church documents about these pedophile priests be made public. These courageous victims are the ones who deserve praise today."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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