RICHMOND, Va. — The Catholic Diocese of Richmond said it set up a program to help people who were children when they were abused by clergy members.
The Independent Reconciliation Program is administered independently by BrownGreer PLC, which is based in Richmond. The diocese said the firm specializes in settlement administration.
The program has its own website which allows people to file a claim if they were abused by the Catholic clergy in the diocese. The claims administrator will review the claims and determine any monetary payment the filer should receive. The Richmond Diocese will not reject or change the administrator's decision in any way.
The program is open to anyone who meets these requirements:
- Was the victim of Sexual Abuse (as defined by Code of Virginia Section 18.2-67.10) as a Minor (under the age of 18) by an ordained priest or deacon assigned by the Bishop of Richmond to a diocesan parish, church, school or institution in the Richmond Diocese; or
- Before 1974, was the victim of Sexual Abuse (as defined by Code of Virginia Section 18.2-67.10) as a Minor (under the age of 18) by an ordained priest or deacon assigned by the Bishop of Richmond to a diocesan parish, church, school or institution in what was then the Richmond Diocese;
- Has not previously settled or litigated a civil Claim to a final conclusion on the merits with or against the Richmond Diocese (dismissal of a previous lawsuit because of expiration of the statute of limitations does not preclude eligibility in the Program).
A news release from the diocese said the establishment of the program was "part of an ongoing process to assist victim survivors in their healing."
Bishop Barry C. Knestout noted, "We will never be able to fully compensate for the harm done and we recognized there are many routes that might be followed to achieve justice. We believe this to to be the best course for our diocese to reach a just reconciliation with our victim survivors."
Although the Catholic Diocese of Richmond will fund the program, the release said it would not use money from the Annual Diocesan Appeal or the Living Our Mission Capital Appeal.
Later in the year, the bishop said he would participate in Masses of Hope and Healing across the diocese.