It has been a while since I read the Aeneid in which Virgil warned “Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.” I will paraphrase in the traditional English fashion. “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.” Today, the Trojan Horse was rolled out of the Chancery on Wyoming Avenue in Scranton.
Just days after the mid-term elections failed to turn the Pennsylvania Legislature from red to blue, the Roman Collar Crime Syndicate in Pennsylvania announced the formation of a “Compensation Program for Survivors of Sexual Abuse.”
A press release from the Bishop made the announcement that was heavy on diocesan empathy (sarcasm intended) and light on details. The text is available on the Diocese Website. I will put the wording of the release at the bottom of this post.
Survivors will need to weigh their options in the coming months on what they want to do. I see this as nothing more than the Dioceses in Pennsylvania trying to settle claims of horrible abuse for pennies on the dollar. I strongly recommend that if you are going to consider going this way that you get competent legal advice.
The Devil is in the details. There are no details here yet. The Devil must still be advising the Bishop on how to proceed. I will wait until this flushes out a little more. This doesn’t look like transparency and justice. It seems like an attempt to buy silence on the cheap.
The press release from Bill Genello reads as follows:
SCRANTON, PA (November 8, 2018) – The Diocese of Scranton announced today the creation of an Independent Survivors Compensation Program for those who have suffered sexual abuse by clergy, religious or lay employees. Participation in the Program by survivors is entirely voluntary.
The Program will be administered by Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros, two leading experts in mediation and alternative dispute resolution. They will have absolute autonomy in determining compensation for survivors, and the Diocese of Scranton will abide by their decisions. Mr. Feinberg and Ms. Biros are currently managing a number of high-profile compensation programs nationwide, including similar programs started by five Catholic Dioceses in New York. Those programs collectively have provided over $200 million in compensation to more than 1,000 survivors. They have received positive feedback from those who participated.
An Independent Oversight Committee will oversee the implementation and administration of the Program. The Diocese will have no authority over this committee. Compensation decisions are final and cannot be appealed or overturned by the Diocese or the Independent Oversight Committee.
“Providing compensation to these survivors is the right thing to do,” said the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L., Bishop of Scranton. “Several weeks ago, Pennsylvania’s Bishops announced support of such a program, which was recently discussed but not enacted by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The Diocese of Scranton is therefore moving forward and is offering this Program for survivors.”
Parish and school assets, as well as contributions and bequests from parishioners and donations to the Diocesan Annual Appeal, will not be used to fund the Program. Rather, the Diocese will use available reserves and will sell assets and borrow money as needed. While the Program will require significant resources, the Diocese will strive to maintain its core mission to serve the local community.
The Diocese continues to refine the Program so that it better serves survivors. Further details concerning the Program will be made available in the near future, including a website for survivors to obtain information and claim forms. The Program is anticipated to launch in January 2019.