February 28, 2004
January 9, 2004
THE SETTLEMENT reached between the Archdiocese of Boston and sexual abuse victims yesterday represents a recognition by Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley of the seriousness of the scandal and offers some compensation for the damage of sexual abuse. While imperfect, like all such settlements, it is a powerful indicator that the archdiocese is committed to helping abuse victims recover and preventing children from being victimized in the future.
Beyond the $85 million monetary offer, the archdiocese is acknowledging the harm done to the victims by men acting with the authority of the priesthood. Counseling will also be offered to show that the archdiocese is committed to help the victims after the money is distributed.
Much of the settlement will go to compensate lawyers for their work on the case. Without suits initiated by the lawyers, however, the full extent of abuse would not have come to light. And the great number of plaintiffs -- more than 500 -- provides graphic evidence of the extent of the scandal. Had the archdiocese acted decades ago to acknowledge the abuse and remove abusers from ministry, the settlement would have been far less expensive.
O'Malley, installed as archbishop six weeks ago, has acted with extraordinary speed to settle the lawsuits. His single-mindedness suggests that he will be equally diligent in maintaining policies to protect children from abuse.
Some of the $85 million could have been spent on the traditional charitable activities of the Catholic Church. The archdiocese of Boston has been accumulating real estate and other assets for 150 years or more. It can, if necessary, sell or mortgage some of this property to pay for the settlements. O'Malley clearly understands that, more than land or buildings, it is the spiritual foundation and moral credibility of the Catholic Church in Boston that must be rebuilt.