September 25, 2018
By Sigal Samuel
The Church is offering to pay people who can credibly say they were abused as children, but who can no longer file a lawsuit because the statute of limitations has passed.
The Catholic Church’s sex-abuse scandal has reached such a fever pitch that its top officials are now compelled to act. Last week, Pope Francis expelled a priest and accepted the resignation of two bishops, all of whom were accused of abuse in Chile. U.S. bishops promised to set up a hotline to field complaints about abusive religious leaders. In Pennsylvania, where a grand-jury report recently alleged 1,000 children were abused by clergy over a 70-year period, bishops announced they would support a fund to compensate victims.
This last move—variously referred to as reparation, compensation, or retribution—may seem like a refreshingly concrete bit of help for the victims. The Church is offering to pay people who can credibly say they were abused as youth but who can no longer file a lawsuit because the statute of limitations has passed. (The statute varies by state; in Pennsylvania, for example, a victim has until age 30 to file a civil suit pertaining to abuse he or she experienced as a minor.) The Pennsylvania bishops are offering to pay victims directly, through a simple arbitration process that they say will go more quickly than a court trial might. “We recognize our responsibility to provide an opportunity for sexual abuse survivors whose cases are time-barred from pursuing civil claims to share their experiences, identify their abusers, and receive compensation to assist their healing and recovery,” the bishops said in a statement.
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