The settlement will provide an estimated $121.5 million to the victims of clergy abuse. However, the agreement is still subject to the victims’ approval.
The Archdiocese of Santa Fe in New Mexico, among the oldest arms of the Catholic Church in the United States, has said that it has reached a $121.5 million settlement to resolve a bankruptcy case related to claims of widespread clergy sex abuse.
According to The New York Times, the settlement funds would be used to compensate survivors of sexual abuse perpetrated by Roman Catholic priests and other Church employees.
The settlement will disburse funds to an estimated 375 claimants.
Dan Fasy, an attorney for 111 of the victims, said that the payment ranks among the top five Catholic abuse settlements in U.S. history.
The New York Times notes that the Sante Fe agreement comes just one month after the Diocese of Camden, New Jersey, consented to an $87.5 million payment.
Alongside the $121.5 million payout, the settlement includes non-monetary provisions. These provisions will compel the Archdiocese to create a public archive of documents relating to a history of clergy sexual abuse claims in Santa Fe.
“The tenacity and courage of New Mexico survivors empowered us to reach a recommended settlement that addresses the needs of the survivors on a timely basis,” said Charles Paez, chairman of the creditors committee that helped negotiate the settlement.
The Associated Press reports that, despite the announcement, the settlement is not yet final and must be approved by the victims.
The settlement includes funds from the sale of properties and other assets, contributions from individual parishes, and insurance policies.
However, the agreement does not settle any claims against Catholic religious orders.
John C. Wester, the Archbishop of Santa Fe, said that the Catholic Church takes allegations of abuse seriously and is committed to righting historical wrongs.
“The church takes very seriously its responsibility to see the survivors of sexual abuse are justly compensated for the suffering they have endured,” Wester said.
“It is our hope,” he added, “that this settlement is the next step in the healing of those who have been harmed.”
Fasy said that, while no amount of money can undo abuse, he hopes that the settlement will bring survivors some semblance of closure.
“No amount of money can undo the pain and trauma that our clients and their families have suffered,” Fasy said. “But we hope this settlement can bring some form of closure and healing to the abuse survivors we were privileged to represent.”
Archbishop Wester said that it is his “sincere hope that all parties will see the wisdom of this settlement and help bring the bankruptcy case to a conclusion for the good of the survivors of sexual abuse, the good of the Church, and Catholics throughout the archdiocese.”