Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of July 23, 2007
Archdiocese settles with abuse claimants
Cardinal Roger Mahony offers his personal apology to the victims
By Catholic News Service
"This particular day is a day for the victims to speak."
- Cardinal Roger Mahony
The settlement - reached by attorneys for the archdiocese and 508 people suing the archdiocese - came the weekend before the first of 15 civil trials in Los Angeles County courts was to begin July 16.
Following Fromholz's action, Mahony repeated his apology and his offer to meet privately with any victim of abuse who asks.
"This particular day is a day for the victims to speak," he said, adding that he would spend the rest of the day in prayer.
Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, said July 17 that the settlement "understandably has garnered great attention both because of the number of cases involved as well as for the figure of the settlement."
"But, as Cardinal Mahony - in line with what John Paul II and Benedict XVI said many times - the Church obviously is pained mainly by the suffering of the victims and their families because of the profound wounds caused by the serious and inexcusable behaviour of some of its members," Lombardi said.
He said the settlement agreement, "with the sacrifices it requires," is also a sign of the seriousness with which the Church "has committed itself to doing everything possible to avoid a repetition of such wicked acts."
During the hearing, Ray Boucher, lead attorney for the victims, thanked his clients for their resolve and courage.
"I think they deserve a tremendous debt of gratitude," Boucher said, fighting back tears.
He credited Mahony with taking steps that led to the settlement, which might not have occurred "if left to the lawyers."
Michael Hennigan, attorney for the archdiocese, said in the courtroom that his views of clergy sex abuse had changed over the years he spent on the cases, largely through his private meetings with 70 plaintiffs.
"I'd like to say that the Church would have been reformed without these cases, but I don't know that's true," he said. "These cases have forever reformed the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. It will never be the same."
In addition to the monetary settlement, the Los Angeles Archdiocese tried to facilitate a pastoral response toward the victims of clergy sexual abuse when possible.
For more than a year, Mahony has been meeting with victims and their families individually, and hopes to continue meeting with victims. The cardinal has met with more than 70 victims, some of the meetings lasting as along as three hours.
Mahony said the new settlement and the one for $60 million announced in November "will have very serious and painful consequences for the archdiocese."
The archdiocese will re-evaluate all ministries and services, "since we will not be able to offer them at the same levels as in the past," he said.
The archdiocese will sell "nonessential properties" to fund its portion of the settlement, but that no parish properties or schools would be affected.
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