Diocese of Erie Suspends Compensation Program, SNAP Reacts

One of Pennsylvania’s Catholic dioceses is suspending its compensation program for the next 90 days because of stock market concerns caused by the coronavirus. This is a hurtful and deceitful move that clearly shows that the best pathway for survivors to get justice is through the court system and not church-run programs.

Civil windows like those that have been opened in states like New York, New Jersey, and California do not close because of financial downturn. They do not turn away survivors because market funds have taken a dip. They do not promise survivors compensation only to pull the rug out from underneath them and “suspend payments.” Instead, they offer survivors the opportunity to share their story publicly. Compensation programs do not, and as we have clearly seen from this example, they are also not the guarantee that Catholic officials claim they are.

Example after example makes it clear that the best way for survivors to seek justice and healing is outside the Church. Whether it is an intervention by attorneys general investigating covered-up cases of abuse or efforts by legislators to open pathways to justice for survivors, secular society has long provided the answers that Catholic officials have failed to deliver. We hope that more and more survivors and advocates will encourage their state legislators to take up window legislation and turn away from church-run programs that, apparently, can be suspended at will.

If a diocese is going to operate a compensation program, then they should ensure that they are running these programs properly. Every single bishop who is currently offering such a program should immediately set aside and protect the money that has been promised to those who experienced sexual abuse at the hands of diocesan employees. To do otherwise is to continue the Church tradition of false promises for those who have suffered from clergy abuse.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 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)


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