The Archdiocese of New York has announced another step in its ongoing efforts to respond to the past scourge of sexual abuse of minors by clergy with the establishment of a voluntary Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP) that will seek to promote healing and bring closure by providing compensation to victim-survivors of abuse by priests or deacons of the archdiocese.
The program, to be administered by the renowned mediator Mr. Kenneth Feinberg, was put into place by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the Archbishop of New York. The archdiocese has already begun reaching out to those victim-survivors who have previously notified the archdiocese that they had suffered abuse by a member of the clergy of the archdiocese in order to invite them to participate in Phase 1 of the program. Mr. Feinberg and his colleague, Ms. Camille Biros, will have complete autonomy in deciding compensation for victim-survivors, and the archdiocese has agreed that it will abide by their decisions.
Former Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly, U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska, and Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia University Jeanette Cueva, M.D., an expert in child psychiatry, have agreed to serve as an Independent Oversight Committee, to oversee the implementation and administration of the IRCP. Commissioner Kelly, Judge Preska, and Dr. Cueva have reviewed and approved the protocols of the IRCP, and they will continue to oversee the implementation and administration of the program, although the decisions reached by Mr. Feinberg and Ms. Biros regarding compensation to victim-survivors are final and cannot be appealed or overturned by the archdiocese or the Independent Oversight Committee.
In announcing the IRCP, Cardinal Dolan said “The program we are establishing today will, please God, help bring a measure of peace and healing to those who have suffered abuse by a member of the clergy of this archdiocese. While the Church, particularly here in New York, has made great strides in working with the ten district attorneys who serve in this archdiocese and in dismissing clergy found guilty of abuse, as well as in preventing acts of abuse through our Safe Environment programs, we continue to hear from victim-survivors that more needs to be done to reach out to those who have been hurt in the past. We have been told, time and again, by victim-survivors that they are not principally interested in money, but instead are seeking some tangible sign of the Church’s desire for healing and reconciliation. As this Year of Mercy nears its conclusion, it is only appropriate that we take this opportunity to follow Pope Francis and once again ask forgiveness for whatever mistakes may have been made in the past by those representing the Church, even by us bishops, and continue to seek reconciliation with those who have been harmed and feel alienated from the Church.”
“I wish to thank Mr. Feinberg and his colleague, Ms. Camille Biros, for taking on this assignment, and pledge to them that the archdiocese will respect and honor any decision they make regarding compensation for those who suffered abuse by a member of the clergy of this archdiocese. I am also grateful to Commissioner Kelly, Judge Preska, and Dr. Cueva for their leadership and service,” the cardinal concluded.
“As we begin this assignment, we are pleased to work with Cardinal Dolan, and the IRCP Independent Oversight Committee. We hope the program will be successful and that any victims of abuse come forward in a timely fashion to seek compensation through this independent program,” said Mr. Feinberg.
Commissioner Kelly, who is serving as chair of the Independent Oversight Committee, said, “I commend Cardinal Dolan for his proactive leadership in redressing the wrongs committed in the past by some clergy in the New York Archdiocese. I’m honored to support the IRCP as it seeks to provide justice and restitution to victims of abuse.”
After Mr. Feinberg and Ms. Biros have completed Phase I, they will begin Phase II, to review new allegations brought against known offenders as well as new allegations brought against clergy who have not previously been alleged to have engaged in misbehavior. Anyone bringing forward a new allegation will be required to follow the policy of the archdiocese to notify the appropriate district attorney’s office, so that they might determine if a crime has been committed. Such allegations will also be investigated by independent professionals and examined by the archdiocesan lay review board.
The archdiocese will take a long-term loan to cover the cost of compensating victim-survivors. The archdiocese will not use money given by the people of the archdiocese to support parishes, schools, and charitable works, nor will it use funds from the annual Cardinal’s Stewardship Appeal, the newly initiated capital campaign Renew and Rebuild, or money given by a donor for a specific ministry or apostolate.
- Individuals who wish to learn more about the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program can visit www.NYArchdiocese-IRCPSettlementProgram.com
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