By FOX BUTTERFIELD; Katie Zezima contributed to this article
Published: August 09, 2003
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The Archdiocese of Boston today offered $55 million to settle lawsuits by 542 victims of sexual abuse by priests, according to a copy of the proposal. Lawyers for the victims said it was the first time the church had made a concrete offer to resolve the scandal.
The church's proposal comes only a week after the installation of the new archbishop of Boston, Sean P. O'Malley. He had said that his first priority would be to settle with the victims of the scandal, which has badly shaken the archdiocese and led to anger, reduced church attendance and a decline in giving in this heavily Roman Catholic city. The previous archbishop, Cardinal Bernard F. Law, resigned under pressure in December.
A spokesman for the archdiocese, the Rev. Christopher Coyne, said he could neither confirm nor deny the offer, in accordance with church policy of not commenting on pending litigation.
But Roderick MacLeish Jr., a lawyer representing 260 plaintiffs, said, ''This is the first concrete proposal the church has ever made.''