HARRISBURG, Pa. — Editor's note: The above video is from Feb. 2020.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg announced on Thursday that it has reached an agreement with the Tort Claimants Committee to settle the diocese’s Chapter 11 reorganization case.
This process has been going on since Feb. 2020, when the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg became the first in Pennsylvania to declare bankruptcy after it paid out a combined $12 million to more than 100 child sex abuse survivors, according to previous FOX43 reporting.
According to a statement from the diocese, the decision to file for bankruptcy came after approximately 54 timely filed proofs of claim from clergy abuse survivors were received during the reorganization process. The diocese had been struggling financially for years prior to the decision as well, also according to previous FOX43 reporting, and its money troubles were only exacerbated by a grand jury investigation and subsequent lawsuits.
The agreement between the diocese and the committee will be incorporated into a reorganization plan and voted on and submitted to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for approval. The plan, according to a statement, "will seek to establish the most comprehensive and in-depth child protection protocols of any diocese in the United States."
“The steps we take today continue our commitment and responsibility to support survivors of clergy abuse, and to make restitution for the suffering they have endured,” Most Reverend Ronald W. Gainer, Bishop of Harrisburg, said. “While I have acknowledged many times that no amount of money could ever compensate for the abuse these survivors have experienced, it is my prayer that this settlement will be the next step toward healing.”
The agreement that was announced Thursday will also establish a Survivor Compensation Trust, which will provide funding in an amount equal to $7.5 million to survivors of clergy sexual abuse. The details of this specific part of the reorganization plan will be announced at a later date.
The diocese also said in their statement that it understands that there will be questions about the settlement plan. It will be posting updated information on its website, as it becomes available.