As the Diocese of Bridgeport takes steps to deal with the fall-out from allegations of the sexual abuse of minors it has launched a website to share what the diocese is doing to protect minors and information learned from an investigation and released financial details on the $52.5 million it has paid to settle 156 abuse claims since 1953.
“Many words have been said regarding the crime of sexual abuse of minors and the scandals that these crimes have produced, words that are needed to express our grief, anger, and confusion. However, words alone are insufficient. The time for further action has come,” Bishop Frank J. Caggiano said in a statement posted on the website.
The website includes a list of accused clerics who served in the Diocese of Bridgeport as well as the full financial report of settlement amounts for past claims. The Diocese says the website will be updated continuously.
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“The Diocese of Bridgeport can never fully make right the suffering of victims and the sins of the past, but we are committed to bringing healing and reconciliation to all those affected by the crisis and to rebuild trust through many of the spiritual and administrative measures described in these pages,” Caggiano wrote.
“We will never permit a member of the clergy with credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor against him to remain in active ministry within the diocese or any other priestly ministry,” the website says.
The diocese said it will “immediately remove a member of the clergy or any other Church worker from active ministry during an investigation into an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor.”
Since 1953, the diocese has paid $52.5 million to settle 156 abuse claims, according to the financial report the diocese released Wednesday, and most of the abuse was alleged to have occurred before 1990.
Twelve priests are accused of nearly 88 percent of the cases, the report says, and the average settlement payment was $337,000.
The diocese said 92 percent of the cost of the settlements comes from the sale of diocesan property, insurance and other co-defendants.
The report goes on to say the diocese is bound by Code of Canon Law to provide some support for priests and eight “credibly accused” priests who are still alive are receiving between $1,319 and $1,466 per month in support and the money come from past sales of Diocesan properties. In 2018, that will amount to $135,460.
Financial assistance to six of those priests will end at the end of the year. One additional priest will receive financial assistance until June 2019 and it is yet to be determined how long another will receive help.
Two other “credibly accused priests” are now receiving a pension benefit and two of the eight priests who are currently receiving financial support will become eligible to receive some pension benefit after diocesan support terminates support.