HARRISBURG – Diocese of Harrisburg Bishop Ronald Gainer is out with a change to the compensation package they’ve set up for victims of clergy sexual abuse. Bishop Gainer made the announcement Wednesday after recently completing his listening sessions around the Diocese.
He said the change in the Survivor Compensation Program means people seeking compensation no longer have to have provided ‘prior notice.’ He said that decision was based on feedback gained during the listening sessions he’s holding around the Diocese. He said they’ll waive the requirement that survivors of clergy abuse must have notified the Diocese prior to February 11.
He said that makes survivors who hadn’t previously come forward, now eligible, but they still have to participate in an in-person meeting with the compensation program administrators.
With this change, the Diocese says all survivors are encouraged to submit a claim to the program. All other deadlines for the 90-day program remain the same. The program is running through May 13. See a full statement from the Diocese below.
Bishop Gainer Makes Change to Compensation Program: Prior Notice Requirement Removed
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Bishop Ronald W. Gainer and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg announced a change to its Survivor Compensation Program today. Bishop Gainer recently completed his Listening Sessions throughout the Diocese. Based in part on feedback from these sessions, Bishop Gainer has waived the requirement that survivors of clergy abuse must have identified themselves to the Diocese by February 11, 2019. Now those survivors who had not previously come forward to the Diocese are eligible for the Program, but must participate in an in-person meeting with the Program Administrators. With this change, all survivors of clergy sexual abuse are encouraged to submit a claim to the Program. All other Program deadlines and terms remain the same.
“I have instructed our Fund Administrator to make this important change to ensure our Survivor Compensation Program includes all survivors of clergy sexual abuse, including those previously known to the Church and those just coming forward today. I made this change in part as a result of the feedback I have received from survivors, parishioners and the public who have attended the listening sessions I hosted across the Diocese,” said Bishop Gainer. “Our goal is to help as many survivors of clergy sexual abuse as possible and we encourage you to come forward and contact our fund administrators, Commonwealth Mediation & Conciliation, Inc. (CMCI). Again, in my name and on behalf of the Church, we extend our prayers, heartfelt sorrow and apologies to all survivors of clergy sexual abuse.”
On Tuesday, February 12, 2019, the Diocese of Harrisburg formally launched its Survivor Compensation Program. This Program is being administered by CMCI. Our Program will include settlements for abuse by Diocesan Priests, Deacons and Seminarians, as well as Priests of other dioceses and Religious Order Priests who had faculties in the Diocese of Harrisburg at the time of the abuse. The claims period will run for 90 days, from February 12 through May 13. Please note: known survivors are not automatically enrolled in the Program and must apply through our program administrator CMCI, available at 1-800-540-2624 or [email protected]. Application forms are available at www.commonwealthmediation.com or www.youthprotectionhbg.com. If you are having trouble accessing forms, please call CMCI at 1-800-540-2624. Additional information regarding eligibility and the Program are detailed below.
Participation in the Survivor Compensation Program does not disqualify survivors from receiving additional counselling through the Victim Assistance Coordinator and Catholic Charities. Catholic Charities provides counselling services and/or reimbursement for counselling services with an approved provider for all survivors of child sexual abuse, not just clergy child sexual abuse, regardless of whether or not that abuse occurred in the Harrisburg Diocese.
Funding for the Survivor Compensation Program will come in the form of a loan from the Priest’s Pension Fund, other existing Diocesan assets and hopefully from insurance proceeds. Money that is collected in the parishes and for the Diocesan Annual Campaign (formerly known as the Bishop’s Lenten Appeal) will not go towards the funding of this Program.
The Survivor Compensation Program will be administered independently from the Diocese by Paul Finn of Commonwealth Mediation & Conciliation, Inc.
Finn and his firm successfully oversaw similar programs in the Archdiocese of Boston, the Diocese of Fall River (MA), the Diocese of Providence (RI), the Diocese of Springfield (MA), the Diocese of Jackson (MS), the Archdiocese of Milwaukee (WI), as well as in the Horace Mann School (Bronx, NY), and the Kamehameha School (Honolulu, HI). Further, CMCI has mediated claims involving the Rhode Island Station Fire (Providence, RI), Deutsche Bank (New York, NY), and the Big Dig Tunnel Collapse (Boston, MA).
This Survivor Compensation Program is one piece of the Diocese’s efforts to address child sexual abuse within the Church. Under Bishop Gainer’s leadership, the Church has released all allegations received against priests, clergy or seminarians and posted that list publicly; removed the names of clergy from positions of honor for abuses, as well as the names of Bishops for not doing enough to stop these atrocities from occurring; waived all non-disclosure provisions from settlement agreements; implemented a new Youth Protection Policy; and contracted with retired State Police Captain Janet McNeal to oversee the Safe Environment Program. During her career in the State Police, Janet oversaw the Megan’s Law registry.