Agosto 08 2005, category: Misc, by: Yaelle

By FOX BUTTERFIELD; Katie Zezima contributed to this article
Published: August 09, 2003

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.''
He added, ''It is substantial enough that it is worthy of real consideration.''

Mr. MacLeish said that a steering committee of five law firms representing the victims was formed this afternoon and would begin meeting this weekend to discuss the offer.

Mitchell Garabedian, a lawyer who represents 114 plaintiffs, called the offer ''a positive step in the right direction that illustrates the good faith of Archbishop O'Malley and his desire to resolve these cases quickly.''

But Mr. Garabedian said he was still skeptical about the terms of the offer because last year he reached an agreement in court to settle sexual abuse claims by 86 people against a former priest, John J. Geoghan, only to have Cardinal Law back out of the deal, saying the archdiocesan finance council would not approve it. The church eventually agreed to a reduced settlement, paying $10 million instead of the $14.8 million to $30 million that was originally agreed on.

Estimates over the past year by lawyers and church officials have suggested it would take $100 million to settle all the lawsuits, which had been thought to number slightly fewer than 500.

Carmen Durso, a lawyer who represents 42 plaintiffs, said that while the $55 million seemed large, it might not be enough for the pain and damage suffered.

''They're offering an amount of money that's not insignificant, but there are a lot of claimants,'' Mr. Durso said. ''The archdiocese doesn't deserve a volume discount.''

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Religious Abuse?

Too Little! Too late!

Recently, you have seen the Catholic Church react to the numerous scandals it has caused. Whether they are accusations of pedophilia, rapes of nuns, abortions of nuns or financial scandals, there seems to be no end, and this is only the tip of the iceberg. Well, those American Cardinals were quite a sight as they paraded in front of their pope!