The Diocese of Richmond is set to pay a total of $6.3 million in settlements to more than 50 victims of clerical abuse, the bishop announced this week.

The announcement comes after the diocese celebrated its bicentennial July 11.

"With the celebration of a jubilee year comes another opportunity to work for justice - for acknowledgement of wrongs, reconciliation with those we have wronged, and attempts to repair the hurt we have caused," Bishop Barry Knestout said in an Oct. 15 letter.

"Those three facets - confession, reconciliation and repair - are at the foundation of the Catholic Church's sacrament of reconciliation which was the model for our entering into the Independent Reconciliation Program."

The diocese during February 2020 started an Independent Reconciliation Program to offer help to alleged minor sexual abuse victims through an independent arbiter. On Oct. 15, the diocese released a report detailing the program's conclusions.

Out of 68 claims initiated, 60 were submitted to the claims administrator. Of those alleged victims, 51 were given offers of payment, all of whom accepted.

According to the report, the settlements will be funded through the diocese's self-insurance program, a loan, and "contributions from other religious orders, where appropriate."

The settlements will not come from parish or school assets, the annual diocesan appeal, donor restricted contributions, or restricted endowments, the report states.

"The completion of this program is by no means the end of our efforts to provide for our diocese's victim survivors. Our outreach is ongoing. We must, and we will, continue to meet victim survivors with support and compassion motivated by our shared love of Jesus Christ," Knestout concluded, asking for continued prayers for victims of abuse.

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