This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 21, 2007 2:50 AM. The previous post in this blog was Can't say as I blame him. The next post in this blog is Wonder how Bean is voting on the port tax. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Chapter (11) and verse

The tab is in for the Catholic Archdiocese of Portland bankruptcy. According to the O, the bankruptcy lawyers made $18.8 million, and that's not counting the estimated $15 million in contingency fees that the child sex abuse victims' attorneys got out of the settlements of the victims' claims.

This is the cue for the lawyer-haters out there to come in a-bashing the profession for its greed. You'll get no defense of that charge here, but it's worth noting that the lawyers were just doing their jobs.

What's more important is what the archbishop did. He spent $18.8 million on a legal maneuver that didn't get him too far in the end. The archdiocese wound up settling most of the cases for a pretty penny; some others are still out there awaiting resolution; and the church was forced to disclose at least some of its secret files about what went on at headquarters over the years when accusations against priests came in. And what was in those files was immoral and revolting.

It was not a wise use of money. $18.8 million would have bought a lot of the "healing" that the church claims it wants. The bankruptcy seemed to be, more than anything else, a deadbeat stall, a bullying, and an attempt to keep the truth at bay. Obviously, there was plenty of money and property and insurance around to pay the claims; they're all being paid. The part where every Catholic in the archdiocese was made a nominal defendant in the case was a pitiful ploy, leading nowhere.

The honorable thing would have been for the church to take its lumps in open court and pay the resulting judgments. That wasn't done.

At our house we're talking about whether Catholicism is still the right thing for our family. We shopped around among Christian denominations a few years ago, but the Catholic traditions in which I was raised brought me back around to where I grew up. I wish we could reform the church, rather than give up on it, but it's structured in such a way that that's not possible. You have to look the other way when the leadership says and does hurtful things -- and that's not infrequently these days. It's tough when the preachers are the bad guys.

The one thing I really am having a hard time with is giving them any more money. For the guys who run the organization, it's all about the money. And it shouldn't be.

Comments (4)

There is another denomination that was started when someone wanted to reform the Catholic church, without necessarily tossing out all the traditions that had value -- Lutheranism. Don't know if you've checked them out, but as a Lutheran myself, I know that many people feel our service is very "Catholic". If you're interested, I think Grace Lutheran (near NE 76th and Fremont) might be somewhat close to you.

I realize this may be a go-nowhere argument, but aren't you describing the problem at the core of ALL organized religion?

Why all the unnecessary structure and middlemen to take your money, time, innocence and trust in your pursuit of a relationship with God? The Catholic church just has a traditional veneer over what mega-evangelical church-corporations have established in less urban areas. But to my heathen eyes, it all boils down to the same thing...

My mom once told me, "religion is a personal, private thing because it's so subjective... if you want to practice with other people or if you choose not to, it's fine. Whatever you do, just try to be a good person and respect others may have a different view of faith and everything will fall into place." This is one of those simple talks that you remember as a child...

I left Catholicism for Episcopalianism about five years ago. It's been tremendous for my faith. I love not having to ignore or edit what I hear from the pulpit, and I love being a part of a religion that, in spite of occasional slips on the issue, is at least attempting to deal with gay rights. There are a few aspects of Catholicism I miss, but on the whole, I haven't looked back. Now, when the Pope says something silly like he did a couple of weeks back, I no longer feel a pit in my stomach. I've found a home that I think fits more with the red letter parts of the Bible.

I understand your reticence to change--it took me years. But for what it's worth, I'm very glad I did.

Much like Clarence Wilmot, the Presbyterian minister in John Updike's In The Beauty of the Lilies, the parodies of cinema long ago supplanted Christianity as my primary vocabulary for the miraculous. So the only recommendation I have on this subject of faith is a movie recommendation.

Carl Theodore Dreyer's 1955 film Ordet is an adaptation from a play by Kaj Munk, a Danish playwright and Lutheran pastor who spoke out against the Nazis and was murdered by them in 1944. The economy, artistry and focus of the movie resonate in the deepest and most enduring ways: from the very first viewing it has been at the top of my list, and every subsequent viewing has moved it ever upward. In the beauty of fiction, it defies disbelief.

(And a note of gratitude is due to the inestimable Critereon Collection for the crisp and warm transfer and master, and to the Multnomah County Library for bringing it home. You can't get it from Netflix.)

Clicky Web Analytics