Source AP ©

Pittsburgh diocese creates fund to settle suits against clergy

A 1.25 million (EUR900 million) fund was set by one of the largest Catholic dioceses in the U.S. to settle 32 lawsuits alleging abuse or injury by priests.

In a joint statement with an attorney for the plaintiffs, the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh said it wanted to settle even though Pennsylvania's statute of limitations barred many victims from filing personal injury claims.

"Often institutions brush these sorts of things under the rug as soon as possible," plaintiff's attorney Alan H. Perer said in the statement. "It was important and admirable for the Diocese to step forward and offer these people help and some form of compensation."

The diocese also will offer a program of counseling and healing.

Bishop Paul J. Bradley, diocesan administrator, praised both sides for moving from an adversarial relationship toward "conciliation and agreement."

Sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests has cost the U.S. church at least $2.3 billion (EUR1.66 billion) since 1950, including several multimillion-dollar settlements reached since the most recent crisis erupted in 2002.

The largest settlement announced so far involved the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which agreed to pay $660 million (EUR476.2 million) to about 500 people in July, shortly before jury selection was scheduled to begin in the first of 15 trials involving 172 abuse claimants there.

The Pittsburgh Catholic dioceses includes more than 760,000 parishioners who make up nearly 40 percent of the population in a six-county area.