Cardinal Timothy Dolan looking upset.

Cardinal Dolan and the Archdiocese of New York are offering money to abuse victims in exchange for their silence. Is this an act of good faith, or a pay off?


To date, the Archdiocese of New York has received over 200 claims of sexual abuse involving roughly 40 different priests. Those victims are now facing a tough decision. A report by the New York Times earlier this month revealed that the Cardinal Timothy Dolan has offered to settle matters of sexual abuse out of court if victims agree to not pursue further legal action. Essentially, the Catholic Church has decided to give out lump sums of money to those who suffered abuse in return for their silence. The offer leaves survivors in a difficult position: should they continue to fight for justice in court, or take the money being put on the table and try to move on with their lives?

Money from the Catholic ChurchProgram Specifics

Here’s how it will work: a respected independent mediator will review claims and decide on a dollar amount the Church must pay each victim. There is no limit to how high the settlements can go, and the Church will have no say in the matter. Even if Church officials think an offer is too high, they won’t be able to reject it.

However, there are several catches to the program. First, it only applies to victims who have already come forward regarding their abuse. There’s also a tight deadline: anyone who decides to participate must sign up for the program by the end of January.

Criticism

While some view this program as a positive gesture by the Church meant to help victims financially, critics see it differently. In their minds, the fact that the Archdiocese has promised to “pay whatever it takes” to settle these cases is proof that the Church doesn’t actually care about the victims, it simply wants the problem to go away. It’s certainly in the Archdiocese’s interest for victims to take the money. After all, once participants take the settlement, they waive the right to sue the church.

Critics also say that this program is a convenient way for the Church to maintain secrecy surrounding the actual extent of the abuse. Keeping the claims out of court will help the Church limit negative publicity in the future. However, in doing this, the Church is protecting the perpetrators – the disturbed priests who committed these heinous acts will never be held accountable.

A man protesting sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.Suspicious Timing

One big question continues to hover over this proposal: why now? We’ve been aware of abuse in the Catholic Church for years, yet Cardinal Dolan waited until just recently to announce the program. He claims he was moved by “mercy” to push it forward. However, some legal experts say it was actually a strategic legal move.

The state of New York currently has a statute of limitations on sexual-abuse cases, meaning that after a certain amount of time passes abusers can no longer be charged with a crime. Here’s the twist: there is mounting political pressure to lift this statute of limitations. This would open up the Archdiocese to a whole new round of legal battles with former victims – something Cardinal Dolan surely wants to avoid. Thus, many see the abuse settlement program as an insidious attempt by the Church to clear its slate of abuse victims in case the law changes.

Money vs. Justice

Regardless of the program’s intent, the money is real. For some victims, it could go a long way in helping them to find peace. Whether it covers therapy bills, mortgage payments, or even a fresh start in a new city, the Church’s money offers tangible benefits. However, this is surely a difficult for many survivors of abuse. On the one hand, the money may provide substantial comfort. On the other hand, it’s a lot to ask. They’d have to forgo any shot at bringing justice to those responsible for the abuse. The program is entirely confidential, so there’s no way to know how many people will decide to participate. Some will likely take the money, while others may choose to continue their fight in the courts.

Going Forward

One thing must be stressed, above all else – survivors should in no way feel ashamed about simply taking the money and walking away. Victims of abuse carry those awful memories with them everywhere they go. If continued legal battles will only serve to reopen old wounds, then perhaps they are best avoided.

Takeaways

One glaring question remains unanswered: what will the settlement program do to prevent future abuse from occurring? The priests involved remain shielded by the church, and the archdiocese has done little to indicate that it cares about transparency. Whether the Catholic Church will make a change for the better remains to be seen.

What is your reaction to this news? Is offering money to sexual abuse victims a sign of the Church’s good faith, or is the archdiocese simply trying to cover up future scandals?  

 

23 comments

  1. Kathryn says:

    Paying off abuse victims: Paving the road to hell with bad intentions.

    1. JOHN MAHER says:

      TRY and get DONALD J. TRUMP to PAY UP, 15 WOMEN, THAT is SICK !!!

      1. Carol Amina says:

        lol…perfect!

      2. hsw says:

        WTH this isn’t a political question.

      3. Ernie says:

        First off Trumps allegations are from Hillarys Secretary the first one and the last is a porn star just because Bill got caught with his pants down does’nt mean the slander will work on Trump it doesnt take an education to see through the bullshit Nice try though.

        1. Susan Borden (@ReZistah) says:

          Amen to that, Ernie. (Hillary’s been with more gals than Donald, so she’s a great one to talk).

  2. Dr. J Pace says:

    Each and every victim should have their say in court and each and every abuser should be held personally responsible…

  3. shiningwolf9 says:

    Christ Like; true Catholic. Would Yeshua allow these abuses? Would Yeshua allow HUSH MONEY to cover up sexual abuses? They are against homosexuality, yet allow this to go on generation after generation. Crumble the Catholic Church, and all churches who willingly refuse to deal openly with these kind of abuses.

  4. hsw says:

    It’s absolutely an attempt at a coverup. If they can settle with the victims they can avoid revealing ugly details.

  5. John Owens says:

    It is absolutely horrific and there is not any excuse than can lend any pretense of godliness or righteousness to the unholy Roman Catholic Church for this practice. So many cases, and this is not new. People used to be proud that their son was an altar-boy. Now they fear to allow them to be an altar-boy. Shame on the Church hierarchy for their complicity in this Satanic debauchery of innocents.

  6. Ricardo says:

    Totally off-base article. This is a great show of mercy by the Catholic Church… they didn’t HAVE to give money to anybody, but they chose to anyway. Those people really shouldn’t be complaining – it’s FREE MONEY!!!

    1. hsw says:

      I see your comments to other discussions have been deleted – I hope this one falls to the same fate. You comment as if you are a child who has no understanding and certainly no compassion. This is a discussion among people who, while we may disagree, all come to the table with a perspective of ethics and the good of society. What are you bringing?

    2. Rev. D. Grabowski says:

      It is not free money Ricardo. Every Catholic that ever put a nickle, dime or a dollar in that envelope every Sunday provided that money. I know from the time before I made my first communion with my little white envelope with 50 cents in it until many years later when the envelope contained a lot of money for my whole family I finally decided I had enough of the “Mystery” of the church and left it. That and millions like me supplied them with this “Hush” money. They will try to keep their secrets and avoid the shame of reality at all cost. It has been going for a thousand years. It works the other way as well. My Mother-in-law sought a divorce in the 1930’s and was told by the Bishop of the diocese at that time “for a fee it could arranged”. She paid the fee but they ex-communicated her anyway. So much for moral character.

    3. Gonzo says:

      Free money??? I was an alter boy in 1980, and yes it happend. Nothing justifies or makes me whole again. But to say I somehow earned money would be better than “it’s free money”

      1. hsw says:

        Don’t feed the troll. He’s only here to start a fight. I’m so sorry that happened to you and no, nothing justifies it.

  7. louise hankey says:

    They are not worthy of being preists by useing god to camaflage there evil deeds

  8. Eugene Clarke says:

    Cardinal Dolan is slick ….and more concerned with maintaining the money flow to the Church?Vatican than holding himself and his clergy accountable for their behavior and flaunting the sacred lives of the Catholic youth….This is why we have a legal system in our society….but the hierarchy thinks that they are basically above the law….it’s just another example of the hierarchy thumbing their noses at our legal system …and caring less the horrible abuse of the clergy…

  9. shiningwholf9 says:

    Since when is HUSH MONEY free money? Paying someone off so things will be kept secret is not free money, it is bribery!

  10. John Owens says:

    A show of mercy from the Church would be revealing all their dirty secrets and excommunication of all those who commit them. The sanctity of the confessional is NO EXCUSE WHATSOEVER to keep these things hidden. The whole idea of the confessional is both a means of gathering intelligence and blackmail that the Church has used to gain and hold power in governments. No human is so noble that they can hear the secret thoughts of many different people and not at least be tempted to seek to take advantage somewhere, somehow. The money is NOT a show of mercy. It is an admission of guilt and a shameless path to continue its evil practices.

  11. Rev.. D. Dansie says:

    I read posts and never comment, but this one as I was reading comments and it just came to me, I felt the need to say something. Christ stated “He who is without sin, let him cast the first stone” then he stated, “go your way, and sin no more”. I just think that it is interesting how we are always the first to judge. Where is the counseling for the priests that have sinned? In business we educate up or educate out. I think that all organized religions need to teach their representatives properly. Just like a lot of businesses, you get thrown in and said here you go this is your job, don’t screw up. Oh and by the way, you’ll have to learn everything on your own, if you mess you, you’re out. We have all taken on this choice because we have a desire to serve, but where is our education? How many of us seek for that understanding? We are all human and we all sin. Am I condoning what the Catholic Church is doing, NO, I am just stating that they have to have more education. And no, I am not affiliated with the Catholic Church, nor am I with any organized religion. Just some thoughts.

  12. Cathleen V. Cain says:

    It doesn’t say if these priests are getting kicked out of the priesthood. Also, why is the church saving their asses? Why not offer a deal and have the only caveat be that they cannot pursue further legal action against the cchurch? The church should hang the perpetrators out to dry, throw then under the bus, and completely let them take the fall for their own actions.

  13. Arnaldo Garcia says:

    Is a criminal actitude

  14. howard g scanlan says:

    every priest should be brought to justice FIRST! a civil suit could go forward after that, if innocent of charges then so be it. the church should be an advocate to stop this and NEVER shield their own, it puts a cloud over the entire church.

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