Bishop Lawrence Persico is calling to create a fund to compensate victims of clergy sexual abuse… but not everyone is on board.
Survivors are responding to the bishop’s announcement, saying their fight is not about money; it’s about exposing the truth and protecting kids.
In the wake of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, Bishop Lawrence Persico announced an initiative to compensate victims monetarily. The bishop is working alongside Senator Joe Scarnati. A letter from the Diocese of Erie says Persico and Scarnati understand that no dollar amount can make amends for what occurred.
The statement reads, in part, “they believe that the many victims who were unable to seek justice because of Pennsylvania’s statute of limitations deserve this alternative response”.
But, victims of priest sexual abuse say that’s not enough. Jim VanSickle says he was abused by a priest. “The people that I’m speaking to do not talk about money in this case. We want justice. We want to be able to civilly see our predator in court.”
Some survivors say the funding is a way for the Catholic Church to distract them from what they believe is the real issue at hand; the statute of limitations.
VanSickle says, “This just tells me, to be honest, that they’re on the run a little bit here. They realize that there’s enough momentum here to possibly change the statute.”
Changes to that legislation could mean victims would be given a two-year window to come forward.
A representative with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, says the announcement is an example of the church trying to stay in control.
“They don’t want their secrets to be exposed,” says Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Regional Leader. “They could be held accountable; big time.”
Vansickle says a fund for the victims is in no way the answer. He believes the survivors would rally around not accepting that money.