Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis
An order of US Catholic priests has agreed to pay $166.1m (£103.3m) to hundreds of Native Americans sexually abused by priests at its schools.
The former students at Jesuit schools in five states of the north-western US said they were abused from the 1940s through the 1990s.
Under a settlement, the Society of Jesus, Oregon Province, will also apologise to the victims.
The order had argued paying out abuse claims would cause it to go bankrupt.
"It's a day of reckoning and justice," Clarita Vargas, who said she and two sisters were abused by a priest at a Jesuit-run school for Native American children in the state of Washington, told the Associated Press.
"My spirit was wounded, and this makes it feel better."
The province ran schools in the states of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.
Most of the alleged victims were Native American. Much of the alleged abuse occurred on Native reservations and in remote villages, where the order was accused of dumping problem priests.
"No amount of money can bring back a lost childhood, a destroyed culture or a shattered faith," lawyer Blaine Tamaki, who represented about 90 victims in the case, said in a statement.
The pay-out is one of the largest to date in a series of sex abuse scandals involving the Catholic Church.
Meanwhile, in Philadelphia:
Twenty-one priests in the US city of Philadelphia have been suspended after being named in an inquiry into claims of widespread child molestation.
The move follows the release last month of a grand jury report in which 37 priests were identified as suspects.
Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia, said the 21 Roman Catholic priests had been placed on leave while their cases were reviewed
He said he was "truly sorry" for the harm done to the victims of abuse.
The two-year grand jury investigation resulted in charges being brought against four priests and a Catholic school teacher last month.
The grand jurors also found that a panel set up by the archdiocese to handle abuse claims following an earlier grand jury probe in 2005 had worked mostly to protect the church.
Three of the 37 priests named as suspects in the grand jury report were suspended in February, a week after its release.
Five more were already on leave, serving elsewhere or no longer in active ministry, the Philadelphia archdiocese said.
The remaining eight identified were not being suspended because "independent examination of these cases found no further investigation is warranted", the archdiocese added.
The names of the priests concerned have not been released.
"These have been difficult weeks since the release of the grand jury report," Cardinal Rigali said in a statement.
"Difficult most of all for the victims of sexual abuse but also for all Catholics and for everyone in our community."
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams praised the archdiocese for taking some of the steps called for by the grand jury.
But Peter Isely, of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, told the Associated Press news agency that Cardinal Rigali had put the interests of the church above those of children, and should have suspended the priests sooner.
I’d hardly equate the distress of the community with the stress of the children being molested. Unbelievable.
I cannot blame the church for the actions of these men. I can blame it for providing an umbrella under whose shadow a serial killer festered, and sheltering pedophiles for who (certainly not that big blank in the sky) knows how long. Even Ireland, that green emerald isle that boasted so many Catholics, is (slowly) abandoning its centuries-long love affair with foolish myth.
The death throes could go on for decades, however. So stay on your toes out there.
Till the next post, then.