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Monday, April 17, 2006

Ten million bucks and two years for nothing

It looks as though all the many dozens of sex abuse cases pending against the Catholic Archdiocese of Portland are going to public trial. So ruled the judge today in the archdiocese's ill-advised bankruptcy case.

What many of the alleged victims have wanted all along, more than anything else, is their day in open court. Now they are going to get it.

By filing for bankruptcy, the archbishop hoped to (a) have the claims disposed of with a minimum of publicity about the details of the alleged priestly transgressions, and (b) shield most of the church's property from judgments on the ground that it really belonged to the parishes, not the archdiocese as a whole.

So far he's gotten exactly nowhere on either count. And he's spent $10 million on lawyers to get there -- not to mention incurring two more years of bad publicity. Plus every Catholic in Western Oregon was made a defendant to the lawsuits -- not something they particularly relished, I'm sure, and it seems to have made no difference in the legal proceedings.

Now it's time to let the American legal system work. If the plaintiffs' claims can't be proven, or if the damages they're seeking are overstated, juries will say so. If the plaintiffs are telling the truth, they'll collect.

It's called justice, and $10 million didn't stop it.

Comments (11)

May Father Thomas Laughlin have his day in court.

What's really ironic about the Archdiocese' position is that a few years ago, the archbishop, I forget whether it was the current one or AB Levada, ordered all parishes to put all their bank accounts in the name of the archdiocese, rather than in each parish's name. One of my friends went to Portland with a parish delegation to protest the move and got nowhere.

Anyway, where do they get off now, claiming that it all really belongs to us parishioners?

I forget whether I posted about this before. If I did, I apologize for repeating myself, but I am obviously still upset by it.

Jack,

I'm not sure what "justice" you are referring to.

Justice would involve the criminals, and their accomplices, paying for their crimes.

But, by including the "parishioners of Western Oregon" as "defendants," not only do we not see justice, but we have an affront to a religious community, the vast majority of whom had no knowledge of the crimes, did nothing to encourage the crimes, and would not have countenanced the crimes in their parishes, had they ever been aware of them.

In short, this line of legal reasoning punishes the innocent, adding yet another layer of "exploitation," to a situation which should have been confined to the criminal courts.

Of course, Bush said we had to invade Iraq because of 9-11. It didn't really mean that the perpetrators would be caught, but it sounded like a good idea to the American people (myself, not included).

Now I guess it's time to bankrupt the Catholic Church, because of some sexual transgressions of its clergy and subsequent cover-ups by bishops.

This "sledgehammer approach" to justice is a mockery.

Really? There's this thing in Western Civilization called tort law. You might want to look into it.

So now the victims of child sex abuse by priests are like the warmongering Bush? Wow, that's quite a lens you see the world through.

You might tell your troubles to the archbishop and the Pope. The corporate structure that they chose, to insure that you have no say in anything, now risks everything. Sorry that they're not above the law in this country.

They didn't get nothing for the $10 mil. Just think of all the ill-will they bought. (Plus they paid a lot less than Paul Allen did, and got more. A real bargain.)

You don't see Terry Porter applying for archbishop.

Big law firms are eager to get their clients into as much trouble as they can afford.

Patrick...

I hope you didn't mean the phrase "some sexual transgressions" to sound as cold and shallow as it did.
Nothing to encourage the crimes, you say? I've always found it rather interesting that we take a perfectly normal male, deny him the normal rite of passage into this world of ours regarding sex and then surround him with nubile young adolescent boys just coming into their own, and B. Parishes full of sinners, telling the priest their inner most secrets about everything and expecting him to keep quiet about it! Gee, I wonder who thought of all this! No, that's okay, I already know!
I've always believed that if a guy really wants to become a Catholic priest, he should be castrated first in the seminary. But, then, thatís probably because my experience was with a seminarian at a summer camp, and after forty-some-odd years, I still hold a wee bit of resentment to the S.O.B. The notion that a Catholic priest can't marry is totally absurd, but my guess is that it probably contributes a great deal to the frustrations and emotional conflicts that seems to exist in the lives of many priests.
Let the church pay for what they've created, whether it's from the archdiocese or the various parishes. If anyone can afford it, it's the Catholic Church...and don't let anyone tell you otherwise...because if they did, they'd have to go to confession!

Jim
Portland

As a parent with kids in a Catholic elementary school, this is pretty troubling. I am all for criminal prosecution of Chuch leaders, but I really would hate to see my kid's school sold to pay the debt. It is not like the archdiocese has provided much support to the school over the years, only about 10% of the operating budget.

No schools need to be sold. The archdiocese can sell some surplus properties and take mortgages on some others.

It's not really much of a surprise that the Archdioces and the Vatican were arrogant enough to think that they could just make the decades and decades of sex abuse go away for pennies on the dollar in a Chapter 11 proceeding. The Church hierarchy and structure is built on an ancient premise that it's elderly white male leadership is infallible. The Church has an incredible history of doing both good and bad throughout the ages because it is an organization run by human beings, not infallible super being robots with a special pipe line to God. I think the sex abuse cases have exposed the incredible arrogance of the Church hierarchy, and maybe Catholics in this country and around the world will wake up and stop writing the checks that allow this cycle of arrogance to continue. I hope these victims win billions because they deserve it and it's the only thing that will make the old boy's club change for the better. Did the Church lawyers really think that trying to hide in U.S. Bankruptcy Court was going to make their client look less guilty when it came time for a jury to decide their fate? May God's will be done.




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