Diocese settles for $21 million in sex scandal
October 17, 2003|By Items compiled from Tribune news services
BRIDGEPORT, CONNECTICUT — The Bridgeport diocese announced a $21 million settlement Thursday with 40 people who said priests molested them when they were children, and the bishop publicly apologized to the victims.
The payout is among the largest by a U.S. diocese since the scandal that has rocked the Roman Catholic Church broke in Boston in 2002.
“Let me express my personal remorse and the remorse of the entire diocese for the harm that was caused in the lives of so many individuals,” Bishop William Lori said.
He said all but one of the 16 priests named in the settlement are no longer active in the church. One was accused of misconduct with a 17-year-old woman 25 years ago and is not considered a threat to children, church officials said. Three of the priests are dead.
The settlement is the second in two years for the diocese. It previously reached settlements totaling $16.7 million and involving 47 claims of sexual abuse, church officials said.
Also this year, the diocese of Manchester, N.H., reached a $6.5 million settlement with 61 people; the archdiocese of Louisville agreed to pay $25.7 million to 243 people; and the Boston archdiocese reached a tentative $85 million settlement with 552 people.
Lawyers in Boston said Thursday they are confident that 80 percent of the alleged victims will accept the archdiocese’s settlement offer by the Oct. 23 deadline.
Is the Pope Panicking Over Sex Scandals, Political Polls, or Both?
Views of Jerry Slevin, a “Catholic and Harvard schooled” Wall Street lawyer, retired
Recent Vatican behavior indicates growing fear, if not panic, apparently related mainly to the ongoing clerical sex scandals and to recent papal political defeats. World media outlets are reporting almost daily now more priest sex scandal allegations, most recently about former Los Angeles Cardinal Mahony’s cover-ups for predatory priests and former New York Cardinal Egan’s ex-aide’s cross-dressing and drug and porn dealing. Moreover, on February 4, a week from Monday, HBO will begin airing internationally the devastating award winning documentary, “Mea Maxima Culpa”, about the abuse of over 200 deaf boys and the Vatican’s failure to curtail it. No more free media passes for the Pope, it appears. For some more examples, please read, “How Much Longer Can the Vatican Avoid Priest Sex Abuse?” accessible by clicking on to the heading at the top or to: http://wp.me/P2YEZ3-fj .
Meanwhile, the scandal is seriously harming the Vatican politically, legally, reputationally and financially. Government officials in the USA, Ireland, Italy, Australia, the Philippines, Germany and other nations increasingly challenge papal positions, including on child protection and contraception, sensing evidentally a weakened papacy. If the Pope continues to lose more political clout, he will also lose his power to exchange with political leaders his electoral support for special privileges and subsidies for the Catholic Church, as is already happening in Ireland and will probably soon happen in Australia, the USA and even in his fatherland, Germany.
The new appointment as chief of staff to President Obama of Denis McDonough, the highly regarded brother of a senior hierarchical canon lawyer from the Minneapolis-St. Paul diocese, with its extensive priest sex abuse claims, suggests the President will know well what is going on in the USA with its more than 100,000 estimated survivors of priest sex abuse. President Obama has already spoken out strongly against child sex abuse in organizational settings; now he may step up and do more than talk about it.
Given this, one would have expected the Vatican to try to address the priest scandals seriously and sensibly, and not merely with cosmetic changes and stepped-up spin. Instead, the Vatican seems to be hardening its defenses of the status quo hoping to survive the scandal, very likely a doomed strategy that has failed completely so far. What’s going on?
Current Papal Strategy
The Pope claims a unique divine authority over a mystical Eucharist administered only by low paid celibate male priests managed ruthlessly by his hand picked and well paid Cardinals and Bishops who serve, like him, for life. As such, the Pope claims accountability only to God and demands strict obedience from his hierarchy, priests and laity. Catholics are expected, no questions asked, to donate at the weekly Eucharist Mass and to accept blindly whatever the Pope and his self-serving Catechism say, even when the Bible, history and/or conscience clearly indicate otherwise.
Advantages of Current Papal Strategy:
The advantages are obvious. Wealth, power and privilege for the Pope, his corrupt Vatican Cardinal clique and their subservient worldwide hierarchy, with no accountability. It is great work if you can get it.
Disadvantages of Current Papal Strategy:
The disadvantages are becoming similarly obvious. Corruption, dishonesty, intimidation and now tens of thousands of sexually abused children who demand justice in a world increasingly governed by the rule of law, not by medieval papal dictates. Moreover, accumulating biblical and historical scholarship available to and understood by more Catholics is making clear that much of basis of the Pope’s purported claim to absolute authority is founded on myths and “cherry-picked” scripture and history. This has once again been made concisely clear most recently in the new book by a promising young UK/Italian scholar, “Democracy in the Christian Church”, a detailed description of which is accessible by clicking on at: http://amzn.com/0567449521
The solution is simple. Just follow the recent advice that Milan’s beloved and respected Jesuit scriptural scholar, Cardinal Martini, offered as his final testament, namely, close the 200 year gap in the Church’s structure and enter the democratic era without the Vatican medieval monarchical clique. The monarchical structure is not only contrary to Jesus’ explicit mandates and to early Catholics’ practice, it is too inflexible and ineffective to work in a global environment. The current inability of the Vatican to head off the Bank of Italy’s hold on Vatican credit card operations is just the latest evidence of Vatican managerial incompetence.
The Cardinals will soon meet to elect a new Pope. They can easily instead just postphone the election until a broadbased meeting of lay and clerical, male and female, Catholics can meet to decide on and adopt needed structural and other reforms, as happened at the first council in Jerusalem described in the New Testament. The Catholic Church has during the past decade survived with a severely ill Pope propped up by the Vatican clique and an octogenarian Pope dressed by his sceptical butler. The Catholic Church can get by with no Pope for a year or two, while it gets its own house in order.
Alternatively, the Cardinals can continue to do nothing but more of the same and elect another papal puppet to serve the interests of the corrupt Vatican Cardinal clique. If that happens, outside governments and their prosecutors will soon make the needed changes for them, as some in the hierarchy likely soon face criminal prosecutions and removal from office. Either way, the Spirit will likely soon return the Catholic Church to the consensual form Jesus and his first disciples left behind for 300 years, and discard the coercive one Constantine and his successors imposed and left behind for 1,700 year until now.
How Much Longer Can the Vatican Avoid Priest Sex Abuse?
By Views of Jerry Slevin, a Catholic and Harvard schooled Wall Street lawyer, retired
The Vatican priest child abuse “cover-up denial”, that was so evident at the recent Roman Synod of Bishops, may be manageable for another year or two, but likely not much longer, even with a new Pope. International reality checks, in the form of factual and not mythical revelations, are rapidly exposing the Vatican’s latest mystical smokescreens to be the poor public relations ploys they are. So many innocent Catholic children have been raped by too many predatory priests protected by complicit Cardinals and Bishops. There are limits to trusting Catholics’ inculcated gullibility, and even an ex-FOX News pro working for the Pope can spin only so much. Facts stubbornly speak for themselves. Papal “Tweets” and “Apps” are no substitute for papal candor.
On an academic level, a promising young UK/Italian lay ecclesiologist has effectively exposed the mainly mythological foundation of the Vatican’s claim for absolute papal primacy. The recent book, “Democracy and the Christian Church”, concisely shows the scriptural, theological, philosophical and historical weaknesses of the papal claim and is accessible in part by clicking on at: http://amzn.com/0567449521
Catholics are increasingly learning that hierarchical conduct too often deviates significantly from papal propaganda. Initial Los Angeles secret abuse file revelations have exposed Cardinal Mahony’s reckless protection of known predatory priests. Criminal allegations of drug dealing against, and related cross-dressing and porn shop operation reports about, a former Bridgeport state chaplain of the Knights of Malta and top subordinate to Cardinal Egan and to Archbishop Lori, head of the Pope’s anti-Obama “religious liberty crusade”, are almost incredibly unsavory.
Moreover, reported efforts apparently to protect the secrecy of Munich and Regensburg files of the Pope and his brother, relating to alleged failures in the 1970′s to curtail a Munich predatory priest and to protect abused Regensburg choir boys, by sacking a too thorough German academic investigator, further erodes the steadily disappearing papal credibility. Ruthless attempts to silence a popular Irish priest who spoke about women and married priests, and apparently also to try to curtail an Irish priests’ “union”, are backfiring as the brave priest stands fast. Continued diatribes against gay marriage by a reported drunk driver San Francisco Archbishop appear cynical and desperate at best. Seemingly unending criminal trial disclosures about Cardinal Rigali’s Philly pedophile priest paradise continues to disgust many Catholics. Millions of U.S. Catholics have had enough and want to see these hypocritical and unaccountable actions curbed promptly.
Some Cardinals and Bishops will likely soon begin to be pressed directly by international and individual nations’ prosecutorial investigations. Even an end to Popes being dictated to by corrupt Vatican Cardinal cliques may be on the near horizon, as explained in “Will the Next Pope Become the Vatican’s Last Pope?”, accessible by clicking on the heading at the top here or on: http://wp.me/P2YEZ3-cT
The days of relying mainly on Vatican canon law investigations and “prosecutions”, now to be overseen by one of disgraced Cardinal Law’s former canon lawyers, are over. The major Australian governmental investigation and the almost inevitable upcoming U.S. Federal investigation will only add to the pressure on the Vatican, as explained further in “Why President Obama Must Read the Latest “LA Confidential”, accessible by clicking on the heading on the top here or on: http://wp.me/P2YEZ3-f3 .
Finally, beginning soon on Monday, February 4, HBO will begin airing internationally the award winnning documentary. “Mea Maxima Culpa”. It is the sad story about 200+ deaf boys who were allegedly sexually abused by a single priest in Milwaukee over several decades. Both local law enforcement and the Catholic hierarchy reportedly failed to act timely and adequately on deaf boys’ abuse claims, which even futilely reached the Pope’s CDF department in Rome. A Federal judge recently reversed an earlier shameful attempt by then Archbishop Dolan, now New York’s Cardinal and a reported papal contender, to transfer $55 million of the Milwaukee diocese’s funds to a cemetery trust beyond the legal reach of abuse survivors’ claims, apparently including some of the deaf survivors.
The Vatican and its subservient Cardinals and Bishops may try to run some more, as Cardinal Law so arrogantly did; but they are rapidly running out of places to hide.