"No matter how long ago the abuse occurred, we hope anyone who is still suffering in silence will be encouraged to come forward. If any survivor also wishes to meet personally with me, my door will be open," Aquila said.
The Colorado Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program, or CIRRP, was designed in collaboration with the dioceses by Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros, who are administering similar programs in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and California. It will be overseen by a committee of five people unaffiliated with the dioceses.
"Feinberg and Biros will have complete independence to determine the eligibility of individual claims and they alone will determine the amount of compensation offered to any survivor," Aquila said. "The Dioceses have agreed to abide by Feinberg and Biros' decisions and the compensation determinations are not subject to appeal by the survivor or the Dioceses."
CIRRP is being offered as an alternative to victims in lieu of pursuing legal action against the Church in court, Aquila said, and is a voluntary program. While victims will be asked to share some personal information when filing their claims, it will be kept confidential by the program.
"Unlike civil litigation in the courts, this new program provides a process that is non-adversarial and protects victims' privacy if they desire to remain anonymous. However, there are no restrictions if the survivor wishes to speak publicly about their abuse and participation in the program. Survivors do not need to retain a lawyer to participate and there are no fees for participating. Compensation for fully completed and documented claims can usually be paid within 90 – 120 days," Aquila said.
To be eligible for the program, those filing claims must be reporting an incident of abuse that occurred when they were a minor by a diocesan cleric who was in active ministry at the time of the incident. Those filing claims about abuse incidents that occurred at the hands of members of a religious order, a priest of an out-of-state diocese, or a lay person will not qualify for the program. Those who have already reached a settlement with the diocese for their claim will not be eligible for the program.