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The Archdiocese of Santa Fe in the state of New Mexico reached an agreement to compensate 375 victims of sexual abuse with $121.5 million, one of the largest compensations that the Catholic Church has agreed to pay in the U.S.
The agreement was reached in a court dedicated to bankruptcy cases and has yet to be accepted by the victims.
In a statement, Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester said the Church takes its responsibility to ensure that victims of sexual abuse are fairly compensated very seriously.
If approved, the court settlement will allow the U.S. archdiocese to set terms for its financial restructuring, as it declared bankruptcy in 2018 due to the large number of lawsuits from abuse victims demanding compensation.
The settlement will serve to financially compensate some 375 people for the harm they suffered years ago, Dan Fasy, a lawyer representing 111 of the plaintiffs, told The New York Times.
The $121.5 million amount is among the five highest in sexual abuse litigation involving the Catholic Church in the United States, according to BishopAccountability.org, which documents such cases against clergy.
The Archdiocese of Santa Fe is one of the oldest in the United States. It was created in the 1850s after the Mexican-American War (1846 and 1848) and is one of the largest in the western region of the country with about 160,000 square kilometers.
Several U.S. archdioceses have been embroiled in similar scandals after victims of clergy sexual abuse spoke out and publicly denounced their situation after decades of silence.
Just a month ago, the Archdiocese of Candem (New Jersey) announced that it had agreed to pay $87.5 million in compensation to hundreds of abuse victims.