VATICAN CITY, JULY 17, 2007 (Zenit.org).- The compensation offered by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles to victims of pedophilia is proof of the Church’s efforts to fight these crimes, says a Vatican spokesman.
The Archdiocese of Los Angeles announced Sunday the largest Church settlement in sexual abuse lawsuits to date, agreeing to pay a total of $660 million to more than 500 alleged victims.
A note released by Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Vatican press office, explained that the settlement is also a guarantee of commitment to eliminate such crimes.
“The Archdiocese of Los Angeles’ settlement for a large number of cases of sexual abuse by priests, religious and lay members of the archdiocese in the last few decades is a story that understandably received a lot of attention because of the number of cases involved as well as the sum of the settlement,” Father Lombardi said.
Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony apologized to the victims in a statement on Monday.
“I again extend my personal apology to victims who suffered sexual abuse by clergy and repeat again my steadfast commitment to continuing all of the abuse prevention programs and policies currently in force in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles,” the statement read.
Father Lombardi spoke of the attitude the Church takes regarding the crime of sexual abuse.
He said: “Cardinal Mahony explained — as John Paul II and Benedict XVI have said many times — that the Church is evidently and above all saddened by the suffering of the victims and their families, for the harm caused by the grave and inexcusable behavior of some of its members, and is firm in its resolve to avoid future vile acts of this kind.
“The agreement, and the sacrifice it involves, are also a sign of this resolve, of the decision to close a sorrowful chapter in history and to look forward in terms of prevention and the establishment of a secure environment for children and young people in all areas of the Church’s pastoral work.”
The Vatican spokesman affirmed that other institutions should take needed steps to prevent pedophilia, “given the fact that the problem of the abuse of childhood and its adequate protection certainly does not regard only the Church, but also many other institutions.”
He added: “The Church, aware of its educational responsibility toward young people, intends to be a protagonist in the struggle against pedophilia, which involves an ever-growing number of sectors of society throughout the world.”