Bankruptcy Plan Approved for Diocese of Harrisburg; SNAP Responds
(For Immediate Release February 15, 2023)
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg received court approval of a bankruptcy plan that establishes an $18.25 million trust to pay clergy abuse victims and puts in place stipulated child protection protocols. Nearly three years after they first filed for bankruptcy, church officials from the Diocese of Harrisburg, PA have released details on their plan to compensate survivors. Unsurprisingly, this plan is clearly more about protecting assets and secrets than it is providing restorative justice to adults who were traumatized as children by church employees.
The simple fact is that monetary reparations for a lifetime of bearing the pain of abuse is pittance in the grand scheme of things, especially given the vast wealth of the church. There is no way to make up for the lifelong suffering brought on by sexual assault, and the sham that is Harrisburg church officials claiming indigence only adds to that suffering.
Critically, church officials should be made to update their list of abusers to include the new names learned during the bankruptcy process. In a similar vein, they ought to be providing local law police with all information related to sex offenses, regardless of the abuser's status. Finally, they should use all resources at their disposal – include diocesan websites and parish bulletins – to ensure that parishioners are aware of these updates and to encourage survivors to come forward and report to police.
Church officials in Harrisburg must be frank and honest with their congregations if they wish to help survivors and create safer environments within their churches. They should use every resource at their disposal to reassure parishioners and parents that both children and adults are safe. We call on those same officials to update their list of abusers to include the new names learned during the bankruptcy process. In a similar vein, they ought to be providing local law police with all information related to sex offenses, regardless of the abuser's status.
It is obvious that no institution can effectively police itself, so we are hopeful that Pennsylvania's law enforcement officials will work diligently to develop novel ways to both provide survivors of abuse with justice and prevent abuse from occurring in the future. Making sure that individuals who aided abuse by covering it up are held accountable is a crucial first step in avoiding abuse.
CONTACT: Shaun Dougherty, SNAP Board President, (814-341-8386 [email protected]) Mike McDonnell, SNAP Communications Manager ([email protected] 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director ([email protected], 517-974-9009)
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)