More of the Same

After the flurry of sexual abuse allegations and trials that grew out of the Boston Archdiocese priestly sex abuse scandal half a decade ago, some might think that Mama Church would have gotten her hierarchy in line. Not so, as an article in the June 1, 2008 edition of an Eastern newspaper:

Why did a Vermont jury hit the Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington with not only damages for the person its priest molested, but also $7.75 million to punish the diocese?

We need only look at how the diocese handled the verdict. The first thing Bishop Matano did was to try to influence the next jury. He claimed the diocese was poor . . .

Bishop Matano wants the diocese's priests' abuse to go away. In May 2006, while trying to move diocese assets beyond the reach of creditors, he described the priest abuse claims as an "unbridled, unjust and terribly unreasonable assault." The jury told Bishop Matano otherwise, but he still does not understand. Contrary to the stated policies of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops going back to 2002, he unleashes his lawyers to wreak havoc on former altar boys. This was evident in the most recent trial, just as it was last June when one of his lawyers caused the judge to discharge the jury because of the misconduct of the diocese's lawyer.

The diocese has apparently not begun to sell its valuable real estate to pay for what its abusive priests have done and settle these cases out of court. Is it not time for that? Instead it prefers to put its victims through brutal public trials, hoping they will give up, or just take whatever settlement money the diocese deigns to offer them. . .

William Cleary of Burlington is a retired priest and author. . . William Cleary, My Turn: Church should be ready to pay more, Burlington Free Press, 2007-2008

Things don't seem to be going well for a number of Catholic archdioceses in America. Several are in the process, or recently have been, of shutting down and /or combining parishes. The reason often given for shutting down parishes is that there is a shortage of priests to run them.

I don't doubt this, but I do doubt that it is the only reason.

Why would there be a shortage of priests, nuns, etc.? Perhaps some priestly sexual predators have "retired" or turned in their gowns in the hope of getting out of town before being hit with criminal or civil charges. Perhaps some priests and religious have grown disgusted with the way things are in the Catholic hierarchy and have simply chosen to sever relations. Perhaps, as has been suggested by some Catholic writers, there are fewer candidates for admission into Catholic seminaries and Catholic parents aren't pushing their kids to become priests or religious.

Then, too, there's the money thing. These lawsuits have hit a number of archdioceses really hard in the pocketbook. In fact, several have declared bankruptcy. Milking parish building and other funds intended for local use to pay the costs of lawsuits and compensate victims may have had an impact on the numbers of people who choose to remain in those parishes.

Whatever the reasons, it seems clear that the moral decay deep within the body of the Catholic hierarchy is breaking through the thin veneer of RCC respectability, laying bare the rotten core of that apostate body. Those who may doubt the shrinking effect recent scandals have had on the Catholic Church in America, I invite you to visit Kathy Shaw's Abuse Tracker page to read the most recent roster of shrinking dioceses in her continually updated site.

Well, I reckon that in some ways, Mama Church indeed is "Always the Same."

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