The Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia said on Tuesday it plans to pay $ 126 million to victims of sexual abuse as part of a reparations program announced in 2018.
The archdiocese said its independent program of reconciliation and reparations had received a total of 615 claims and had settled 208 of them for $ 43.8 million as of April 22. This averages out to about $ 211,000 per claim, which is in line with what other dioceses have been. pay under similar programs.
The archdiocese said it still has $ 20 million to pay the claims and will collect the rest of the money through loans or property sales. The diocese made the estimate of $ 126 million as part of an audited financial statement for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2019.
“I deeply regret the pain and suffering of the survivors and all the decisions that failed to protect them,” Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez wrote to parishioners on Tuesday in a letter. “The pain and damage runs deep.”
The financial statements of the Archdiocesan Financial Services Office, which functions as a sort of financial clearinghouse for related religious entities, provided details of how the church has collected the money so far.
Last summer, St. Charles Borromeo Seminary – which a year ago sold its 72-acre campus in Wynnewood for $ 43.5 million to Main Line Health – provided a $ 7.5 million loan. . The Archdiocese plans to repay that loan this summer with the initial proceeds from the development of parts of the Cathedral Block at 17th and Race Streets in the downtown area.
In December, Saint-Charles Borromée Seminary, Catholic Social Services and the Office of Catholic Education paid the Archdiocese $ 28 million to help cover repairs. In addition, Catholic Social Services, which provides adoption, homelessness, drug addiction treatment, and other services, has pledged $ 15 million to the Archdiocese to help to pay claims, according to the financial report. This loan will be secured by real estate of the Archdiocese.
When the fund was announced, then CFO Timothy O’Shaughnessy identified these sources of loans: a trust to pay for the perpetual upkeep of the cemetery lots, a pension fund for priests, and a trust. benefits.
Church officials in the dioceses of Pittsburgh, Allentown, Harrisburg, Greensburg and Scranton unveiled plans for similar funds at the end of 2018, following an unsuccessful attempt by some Harrisburg lawmakers to open a temporary window for older victims of abuse to sue.
Victim advocates have criticized the compensation funds as a move to undermine legislative efforts to give victims the opportunity to bring their claims to court. By accepting money from the compensation fund, victims are giving up their right to sue if lawmakers ever lift the civil statute of limitations for old claims. For these claims, victims who were abused before their 18th birthday have until the age of 30 to sue.
Under a 2019 law that is not retroactive, victims have up to 55 years to bring legal action for abuses that occur after the new law comes into force this year.
The Diocese of Harrisburg in February joined the ranks of at least 20 U.S. dioceses that have filed for bankruptcy over complaints of sexual abuse by priests. The most recent was the Archdiocese of New Orleans, who filed Friday.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s annual financial report showed that its central financial services office had operating income of $ 2.8 million for the fiscal year ended June 30, 2019. This number excludes extraordinary items such as the liability recorded for payments.
It was the second consecutive year of profits for the central office after six years of losses, as the archdiocese led by former Archbishop Charles Chaput dug the deep financial hole he inherited from his predecessor, Cardinal Justin Rigali.
Pérez, of Cleveland, took over from Chaput this year.
Among the expenses excluded from the $ 2.8 million operating gain were $ 2.23 million in costs related to a federal grand jury investigation that began in 2018 after a grand jury report to the statewide allegations that year of widespread abuse and cover-ups in six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania.