On the surface, the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Programs introduced by several Roman Catholic Diocese in New York look like a long overdue act of contrition to make up for wrongs done in the past. But when you examine the particulars it is clear their intent is to minimize financial exposure for the church while maximizing the appearance of taking responsibility I am not being cynical, merely observant.
If this program was really about survivors’ well being, these plans would not limit claims to only priests and deacons that work directly for the diocese. There are many nuns, lay faculty, and staff that work for institutions under the archdiocese “watchful eye” as well as priests and brothers that belong to a myriad of other orders that are known child sexual abuse perpetrators and should be included.
Survivors who participate are cut from the herd and “negotiated” in secrecy and isolation. They give up their right to sue in the future and are not given access to the information the church has on the abusers. The “support and counseling offered by the church, have the interests of the church at heart. This is the barest minimum of cooperation that can be offered.
Survivors who have waited, some for decades, to have their trauma and pain recognized, and the guilt and shame they have lived with, finally handed over to those it truly belongs to are pressured into having to act before an arbitrary cut off date, wondering if there will ever be another chance for them in their lifetimes.
If Cardinal Dolan’s motivation was indeed the welfare of survivors he would not be spending millions of dollars lobbying politicians to block the Child Victims Act. He would instead trust justice to take its course and let the antiquated statute of limitations on child sex abuse be eliminated. Since all of our legal standards and due process, such as being innocent until proven guilty and the burden of proof is on the accuser, would remain unchanged, the only motivation for blocking these reforms is protecting the church’s assets.
This plan is designed for only one thing, to shake out the low-hanging fruit and clear away as much exposure to lawsuits as possible before the CVA is passed, which it eventually will. Instead of the good shepherd, he would like to be seen as this program allows the cardinal to be a wolf in shepherd’s clothing. Beware!