When Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the longtime leader of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, introduced the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program to the public in Oct. 2016, he expressed his hope that offering financial settlements to the victims of sexual abuse by clergy would both “promote healing” and “bring closure” after more than a decade of constant scandal.
“It is only appropriate that we take this opportunity to follow Pope Francis and once again ask forgiveness for whatever mistakes may have been made in the past by those representing the Church, even by us bishops,” Dolan said, “and continue to seek reconciliation with those who have been harmed and feel alienated from the Church.”
When Kenneth Feinberg, the lawyer Dolan appointed to administer the program in New York City and Long Island privately pitched it more than a year later to the representatives of three Upstate New York dioceses, however, he suggested that Dolan was motivated in part by something else: politics.
“I think the Cardinal feels that it is providing his lawyers in Albany with additional persuasive powers not to reopen the statute,” Feinberg said of the program. “We are already doing this, why bother? Don’t reopen the statute. We are taking care of our own problem. I think that is guiding Cardinal Dolan as well.”
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