While the dozen-year-long David and Goliath battle with the Republican-controlled NY State Senate over the Child Victims Act (“CVA”) is being waged, the only path for any redress open to survivors of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy is one dictated by the bishops and based on a plan first introduced in the Archdiocese of New York.
Now, the Most Reverend Salvatore R. Matano, 9th Bishop of Rochester, is following in the footsteps of His Eminence, Timothy Cardinal Dolan, with his own version of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (“IRCP”). He has hired a retired State Supreme Court justice to be both judge and jury in cases of victims who say they were abused by Catholic priests ordained or assigned in the Rochester area.
It will be Justice Robert Lunn alone who will decide if and how survivors will be compensated by the Diocese. His decision cannot be appealed, and the victims can either take it or leave it. He believes the Diocese of Rochester hired him to handle the sex abuse claims against local priests because he “took great pains to respect the victims’ privacy” in a case 22 years ago. We all know how important privacy is to the Church.
Although he is not Catholic, his public statements so far show him to be either very naive about his new employer, or in league with them.
As odd as it may seem, I really believe the Church is trying to do the right thing and advance the healing process and do the right thing, seriously.”
I agree, as long as it is understood that “the right thing” is always what’s in the Church’s interests, specifically:
- avoiding the spectacle of a public court proceeding
- no disclosure of what the bishops knew or when they knew it
- a cap on compensation
- as many survivors as possible agree to not sue them
- stall long enough to prepare for the passage of the Child Victims Act (“CVA”) in NY
They really believe that many of these alleged victims have been harmed, and they want to do the right thing and get some kind of resolution.”
Really? They believe “many of these alleged victims have been harmed.” How about checking the report commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and written by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice which estimates that less than 2% of sexual abuse allegations against the Catholic Church are false. As far as “some kind of resolution”, I refer you back to the bullet points above.
It could be a combination of money, counseling, paying for counseling, but I think it’s primarily them trying to do the right thing.”
There’s that “doing the right thing” line again. Me thinks the judge doth protest a bit too much!
If I get the gut feeling that this person is credible and telling the truth, I probably would be inclined to make an award.”
I’m sorry, but why are adults-who-were-sexually-abused as children the only class of victims in New York that have to depend on getting their justice, not from a court of law, but from the “gut feeling” of someone who “probably would be inclined” to decide against his employer?
The money for settlements would come from a special insurance reserve fund, the premiums for which have been paid for by parishioners putting their money in the Sunday collection basket.
This travesty won’t change just because the Church claims it’s looking to do “the right thing.” Just look at how they’ve treated their most vulnerable. By not protecting children in their care from sexual predators and then retraumatizing hurting adults seeking justice, waving duplicitous settlements under their noses, they made clear they can’t be trusted.
These compensation plans can and will help many survivors. But that isn’t their purpose, as far as the Catholic Church is concerned. To the bishops, it’s just collateral damage and part of the cost of doing business.