March 24, 2020
By Ed Palattella
Letter says decline of stock market related to the coronavirus prompted compensation fund’s 90-day pause.
The COVID-19 pandemic has gone far beyond keeping parishioners out of church and absent from Mass in the Catholic Diocese of Erie.
The diocese said the crisis has so affected its finances that the diocese has suspended payments from its special fund for victims of clergy sexual abuse.
The 13-county diocese, which on March 17 suspended public Masses due to the coronavirus, has halted operation of the compensation fund for at least 90 days because of the sharp decline in the stock market related the coronavirus outbreak, the fund’s administrators and the diocese said on Tuesday.
They both indicated that the downturn on Wall Street has significantly reduced the value of the diocese’s investments.
Neither the fund nor the diocese detailed the amount of the losses, but they put more pressure on financial resources that Erie Catholic Bishop Lawrence Persico said were under stress even before the pandemic.
The diocese’s expenses related to the clergy abuse scandal, including payments to the victims, had strained the diocese’s finances but they remained solvent, Persico said on Feb. 19, after the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg filed for bankruptcy.
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