The Costs Of Penance

How do you put a price on sexual abuse?

The medieval Roman Catholic Church sold indulgences to sinners who thought cash could purchase exoneration in heaven. Today it's the church that is handing out money in hopes of buying forgiveness for itself. The surging scandal over sexual abuse by the priesthood is proving as financially damaging to the church as it is hurtful to the faith, as Catholic dioceses across the country dole out huge sums to victims to compensate them for their pain and keep them silent.

Desperate to put the worst behind it, the Boston archdiocese agreed last week to pay $20 million to $30 million to...

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