San Francisco archdiocese spent $87.2 million on sex-abuse settlements

Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone: Insurance covered 70 percent, while roughly $35 million came from the diocese, the sale of church properties and other religious funds

St. Mary’s Cathedral in San Francisco. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

The Catholic diocese in San Francisco has settled roughly $87 million worth of sex abuse cases against priests and others associated with the church, mostly in the last 15 years, according to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone.

The archbishop divulged the eye-popping figure during a series of town hall meetings held to address the sexual abuse of minors in the local Catholic Church on the heels of a grand jury report in Pennsylvania that found hundreds of priest had molested at least 1,000 children in that region.

The multimillion-dollar figure, while expensive, represents just a fraction of the problem in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, according to an advocate with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, otherwise known as SNAP.

“It’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said SNAP national Board of Directors Secretary Melanie Sakoda, who is based in the Bay Area. “Only maybe one in 10 victims ever come forward. Some of them will say they don’t want money. They just want their abuser out of ministry.”

In a Nov. 15 letter, Cordileone said only that he had decided to hire an independent consultant to review the personnel files of all 4,000 priests who have served in the diocese since 1950.

Cordileone disclosed the $87.2 million sum on Oct. 18 at St. Stephen’s Catholic Church. He said $80.5 million worth of a total of 125 sex abuse cases had been settled since 2003, when California lifted the statute of limitations for adults abused as children to file civil lawsuits against the church for one year.

California passed legislation opening the one-year window for civil litigation after the Boston Globe reported in 2002 on the local church covering up for priests who abused children.

“To me this is the deepest betrayal imaginable,” Cordileone said. “I can’t express adequately the deepest shame for you, our victims, and for what has been done to you, and for those in positions of authority who did not respond responsibly but rather allowed abusive priests to continue unchecked.”

Cordileone said insurance covered 70 percent of the $87.2 million in settlements, while roughly $35 million of the funds came from the diocese, the sale of church properties and other religious funds. No parish funds were used to cover the costs of the settlements, he said.

Cordileone claimed there had not been a reported incident of the sexual abuse of a minor in the Archdiocese of San Francisco since 2000.

“We did have a close call in the year 2011,” Cordileone said. “There was a priest serving here from another diocese who made advances to a young man who was just shy of his 18th birthday. The father was nearby and intervened so thankfully the abuse didn’t happen, but that priest has been removed from ministry.”

Sakoda questioned the claim. The SNAP advocate said she does not believe abuse has stopped in the local diocese — it likely just hasn’t been reported yet.

Full story at SF Examiner.

Comments

  1. A priest who made advances to a man just shy of his 18th birthday… again, the problem is homosexual clergy.

    • One man, Anonymous. One man since 2000. Homosexual clergy have celebrated tens of thousands of masses since 2000 in the Archdiocese of San Francisco, heard thousands of confessions, baptized maybe a hundred thousand or more. Yet you would throw that all away because of one man?

  2. The math is a bit loose. 70% of $87 mill is just over $61 mill. $35 mill from the Archdiocese brings the total to $96 mill, about 10% more than the cited figures.
    Can the Archdiocese get meaningful insurance in this area?
    Only time will tell if there is current abuse. Apparently many victims take years to report their abuse, if ever.

  3. Sienna Sam says:

    “No parish funds were used to cover the costs of the settlements, he [Cordileone] said.” The $35 million not covered by insurance came from “the sale of church properties and other religious funds.”

    Again, the Church’s patrimony, which could have been used for other worthy causes, has been squandered!

    Even though the claim has been made that no parish funds were used, remember, that each diocese and archdiocese receives an “upstream cut” [skim] from local parish collections.

    The faithful can, instead, give funds that would have otherwise cone into the collection basket directly to:

    —The Little Sisters of the Poor in San Pedro, California;

    —The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter;

    — The St. Jude Children…

  4. Do not give to the “Church.”

    Instead, give direct charity to someone in need in your own family or your community. At least you will know where your money is really going.

    We have been betrayed for a very long time and the bishops have done little to earn our trust. .

  5. St. Christopher says:

    Wait, is the Archbishop actually proud of the record there since 2000 (even with the “close call”)? The issue is with homosexual clergy (and seminarians), and the Church’s slouching towards Bethlehem (apologies to Yeats). You are sitting on a time bomb, Excellency. What are you doing about the homosexual sexually welcoming MHR, for example? You have the tools to stand up to this, Archbishop. You are going to preside over the complete destruction of the Faith in San Francisco is your only concern is damage avoidance. This is an awful statement to an awful record.

  6. CalCatholic reader says:

    Lawyers and SNAP members must be having a ball at the expense of the folks in the pews.

  7. Lou Varini says:

    Sounds like he is proud that the loss, not covered by insurance was “only” $35 million!!!

  8. Several years ago, after reading about tens of millions being paid to victims of priests who committed crimes and tens of millions collected from unsuspecting faithful for Catholic Campaign for Human Development paid out to groups who openly oppose Church teaching, I redirected my support to more worthy causes such as Mary’s Meals, Priest for Life and Dominican Nuns in Menlo Park.

    • Oh, Priests for Life. Who’s head had to be repeatedly instructed to keep better accounting records, and was finally thrown out of the NY Archdiocese because they refused to do so? Sure, give all your money and see it go anywhere except where you think it went!

  9. Mchicha Wacheza says:

    It sounds like the Bishop is coming clean and is ashamed of his Diocese. He disclosed that the man who tried to abuse a youth is not in the Priesthood anymore.
    It’s difficult to get from this article his state of mind, whether pride on his record, or his shame, so, I assume shame due to the difficulty of coming clean in this way.
    Probably most priests are homosexual in San Francisco and living very unpriestly lives. They should just leave the priesthood and be honest with themselves.

  10. Anonymous in L.A says:

    The S.F. Archdiocese dodged a big bullet. Unfortunately, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe was not as fortinate. Today CNA reported the filing of a bankruptcy petition by the Santa Fe Archdiocese:

    https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/santa-fe-archdiocese-to-file-for-bankruptcy-70908

    More will come.

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