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.
Penn Live is reporting that another Grand Jury is about to release a damning report on the Catholic Church’s dirty little secrets regarding the rape and sexual assaults on children and vulnerable adults. Will this make the people of Pennsylvania stand up and say it is time to confront this issue and the organization that has been providing cover for the criminal acts of priests? I don’t think it will matter.
You can read the article at PENN LIVE!
If the boys in black at the Chancery Building in Scranton aren’t sweating, they should be.
If something is not done, I won’t be surprised if people start taking matters into their own hands.
I would like to know why many survivors, including myself, who contacted the office responsible for conducting the investigation were never called in for an interview. As I wait to read the report, I know that no matter how damning it may be, it is only the tip of the iceberg. I also know that all the Bishop’s lawyers will do everything in their small minded power to bury all of it.
It may be time for torches and pitchforks!
I don’t post here very often anymore. But when an email arrived in the early morning hours this past Friday with a link to a story on PennLive.com about the death of a prolific Archdiocese of Philadelphia pedophile I felt the need to pass the information along.
James Brzyski, alleged to have had more than 100 victims while a priest in the Archdiocese during the 1970s and 1980s died in Texas a few days ago. The Archdiocese sent him to “treatment” (read that as hidden from civil authorities by the Archdiocese) after being credibly accused of sexual assault. He walked out of treatment and left the ministry. The Archdiocese only told parishioners that he departed for “medical reasons.” Like most predator priests in Pennsylvania, he was neither charged or prosecuted for his sex crimes against children because of the statutes of limitation.
Brzyski was living in the Dallas, Texas area when an investigative reporting team from The Philadelphia Inquirer found him. He declined a request to be interviewed. Within a month of being discovered, he was found dead at the Super 7 Motel in Fort Worth. You can read the article from the Inquirer here.
I want to send my condolences to his victims. The truth and extent of his crimes may have died with him. I know from personal experience that the death of the priest who raped children brings a broad range of emotions for a survivor. There is relief that the monster is dead. There is also anger that he made it out of this life without having to answer for his sins, face his victims or pay for his crimes. What may be potentially worse for survivors is the knowledge that the Archdiocese is breathing a sigh of relief that another of the pack of wolves they have protected and supported for years is no longer causing a scandal for the church.
When Robert Gibson died in 2012, I was numb, confused and angry. Not so much at him, but at the Diocese of Scranton for choosing to shield him, deny the truth and not make the simple decision to protect children.
The death of James Brzyski tears the scab off the wound for all his victims and their families. His death does not make the pain any better, it just makes it different. If you were one of his victims, reach out. Don’t shoulder this burden alone. What he did to you was not your fault.
I do not believe in heaven or hell. I don’t have the option of wishing he would burn in hell along with the rest of the Roman collar criminals. I would like to see the wrath of the survivor community come down on those in the hierarchy of the church that protected monsters like James Brzyski. I really don’t care if that justice is awarded in a courtroom or on the streets.
Link to the section on James Brzyski in the Grand Jury Report on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia
Dallas News Report on Brzyski’s death