San Diego’s Bp. McElroy Announces Victim Compensation Fund

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by William Mahoney, Ph.D.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  August 15, 2019   

The program includes payouts for 'undocumented immigrants'

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SAN DIEGO (ChurchMilitant.com) - A California bishop who thinks climate change should be a top priority for the Catholic Church has announced a compensation program for victims of clergy sex abuse in his diocese.

Joining five other Catholic dioceses in California, Bp. Robert McElroy announced an Independent Compensation Program Tuesday for victims of clergy sex abuse in the diocese of San Diego, including compensation for "undocumented immigrants."

The program will go into effect in September. 

But in all cases we are anticipating that people will alert us so that we can track these reports at the diocese to make sure everything is followed up on.

A California law passed in December altered the statute of limitations for sex abuse in the state, allowing for victims of abuse or attempted abuse to sue up to 10 years after the last assault or attempted assault. 

McElroy also suggested that all in the diocese speak with a mandated reporter if the sexual abuse of a minor is suspected:

I would suggest that if you are not a mandated reporter, but come across evidence which points in your mind to the existence of the sexual abuse of a minor either within the life of the Church or in their family or social lives, and you are unsure how to proceed, you consult with one of the experienced mandated reporters at your school, parish or agency to come to clarity on what you should do.

McElroy said that both moral and civil law urge anybody aware of the possible sex abuse of a minor to report the suspected abuse to child welfare services. 

The bishop included all forms of physical or sexual abuse in his talk and not just the abuse or attempted abuse of minors, saying that any suspected case should be reported. 

The announcement was made before nearly 3,000 parish, school and other diocesan employees. 

California law requires mandated reporters to go directly to law enforcement, noted McElroy, adding: "But in all cases we are anticipating that people will alert us so that we can track these reports at the diocese to make sure everything is followed up on."

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The diocese has stated that the money for the compensation program will come from diocesan funds and insurance; the money will not come from parish money or the Annual Catholic Appeal.

Undocumented immigrants may also apply.

The diocese of San Diego also stated in a press release that victims of clergy sex abuse in the diocese are invited to apply for compensation without any statute of limitations. 

"Victim/survivors of abuse by a priest of the San Diego diocese will be invited to apply for compensation regardless of when the abuse occurred. Undocumented immigrants may also apply. There will be no statute of limitations," reads this portion of the statement. 

Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros of the Feinberg Law Firm in Washington, D.C. will head the compensation program, which will typically pay victims in 90 days or less once the program is running. 

The press release concludes with a declaration that money cannot ultimately compensate for the evil of clerical sex abuse and a request for prayer:

No amount of money can make up for the evil done to victims of priestly sex abuse, but we can and must finish the job of compensating victim/survivors for the wrong that was done to them whenever it took place. To that end, I ask you to keep the victim/survivors of priestly sex abuse in your prayers, that they may feel the healing touch of a faithful and loving God. 

McElroy is known for calling faithful Catholics "cancer" and calling for the Catholic Church to embrace liberal agendas such as combating climate change, which he said should be a top priority for the Church.

McElroy has also insisted that there is no gay subculture in his diocese, despite documented evidence to the contrary

A 13-page letter by the late Richard Sipe, a once-renowned expert in clerical sex abuse, shows how McElroy knew about Theodore McCarrick, the notorious ex-cardinal sex abuser, since 2016 when Sipe hand-delivered the letter to McElroy. 

McElroy never responded to the letter; however, after criticism, he stated that he ignored the letter because he could not corroborate Sipe's claims. 

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