The seat of the Roman Catholic Church in New York says it has paid roughly $40 million in compensation to victims of sexual abuse.
In a press release posted on the archdiocese’s website Thursday, media liaisons Joseph Zwilling and Mercedes Lopez Blanco said the payments were made to 189 abuse survivors.
The payments mark the end of a reconciliation program to evaluate claims by alleged abuse victims. In 2016, the New York Catholic Church launched its Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program to assess abuse claims by more than 200 people who said they’d been victimized by members of the archdiocese’s clergy.
The cases involved roughly 40 priests, The New York Times reported last year. Zwilling told HuffPost the archdiocese will not be releasing the names of the clergy members involved in the claims.
The program was headed up by Kenneth Feinberg, a lawyer who also mediated in the compensation fund for victims of the Sept. 11 attacks. In administering the archdiocese’s reconciliation program, Feinberg and his colleague, Camille Biros, “were given total independence to evaluate claims and determine compensation,” the release said.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, said at the time of the program’s creation that he hoped it would “help bring a measure of peace and healing to those who have suffered abuse by a member of the clergy of this archdiocese.”
The program concluded on Nov. 30, with several additional claims still pending.
The archdiocese took out a short-term loan in order to make the immediate payments and plans to take out a long-term loan to repay the total cost of the compensation, Zwilling told HuffPost.
New York has one of the strictest statutes of limitations for child molestation victims in the country. And the New York archdiocese has lobbied against a bill, called the Child Victims Act, that would make it easier for victims of long-past abuse to come forward.
Some victims’ rights advocates criticized the church’s reconciliation program, claiming the archdiocese was establishing it to avoid litigation and appease victims. Anne Barrett Doyle, who co-directs a watchdog group that documents Catholic Church abuse cases, called the program “a shrewd strategy” on the part of the archdiocese.
Like many of the nation’s dioceses, the New York Catholic Church has grappled with the clergy sexual abuse crisis for over a decade, though many of the cases date back much longer than that. In some instances, priests who were accused of abusing children in the 1970s and ’80s continued working in the archdiocese well into the 2000s.