The Catholic Church is Bankrupt!

9/9 Update: On Friday the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego reached a $198.1 million agreement with 144 childhood sexual abuse victims Friday morning. The agreement included the diocese's promise to release church documents about priest abuse. As part of the settlement, the diocese will also ask a federal bankruptcy judge to dismiss its Chapter 11 case. In an afternoon news conference, Bishop Robert Brom repeatedly apologized to victims, their families and friends “in the name of the church, to beg their forgiveness.”
8/25: Just in case you missed this announcement back in February:
After four years of legal wrangling in the clergy-abuse scandal, attorneys for Bishop Robert Brom filed for Chapter 11 protection last night, making San Diego the largest Roman Catholic diocese in the nation to declare bankruptcy.
Yesterday a federal bankruptcy judge ordered immediate jury trials in more than 40 sex-abuse lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego.

I find it to be troubling and sad the way that the Roman Catholic Church is hiding behind American bankruptcy laws to protect themselves. It seems to me that the American and international Roman Catholic community is not bankrupt and should certainly be held financially accountable for misconduct in their community.

Between this and the Haggard story below it is a sad day for religion.


  1. Beg pardon? Have you read one inch of the damages sought by these rapacious attorneys? Hundreds of millions of dollars?

    Does the Church not have the right to avail itself of the same laws any entity in the country can use to protect the assets of its "shareholders" from unbelievably injurious lawsuits? Would you suspend the law in their case, because they're "fabulously wealthy" like some people believe, looking at St. Peter's? Do you understand the shoestring budgets our parishes operate under, the extent of our charity, parish by parish and diocese by diocese, and the fact that our dioceses subsist on ten percent from each parish, and the Vatican subsists on some percent (I think 15% but I won't swear), of that ten percent?
    What the heck do you think we have?

    I'm not saying that these people feel damage from being abused. Some were abused horribly. Others were talked to suggestively or tapped on the butt thirty years ago. Wrong is wrong, but how many billions should the church be paying out, and how many churches, built by the parishioners dollar by dollar, have to be sold to satisfy the greed of attorneys, who will collect 30-40% of the awards?

    I can't believe you expect the church to be any more liable than any school or organization or club or company (the public school system produces FIVE TIMES the abusers but has managed to ram through laws that cap their liability, so they can't be ruined by lawsuits, don't get me started on THAT injustice), and any less able to use the laws of the country.

  2. And before anyone can suggest it, let me hear you agree that the US Government should sell the Smithsonian to pay back black people today for slave reparations. Or sell the White House.

    "Oh, no, that's a treasure of the people!" and "the harm was caused decades ago!" you will say. Well, same with St. Peter's and the cathedrals in some big US cities. Already the dioceses have sold off investment land donated by parishioners, chanceries, vacant schools, cut staff, and the attorneys just want more and more and more.

    Sorry, when people speak about this without any idea of the vindictiveness against the Catholic Church, it rattles my beads.

  3. Why do you take such personal offense TZ? Do you support the San Diego diocese's Chapter 11 approach?

    And why is it that an organization that espouses to have accountability of apostolic authority isn't a bit more transparent about these things? Seems that these things could have been taken care of years ago without involving a US judge.

    Honestly, I found your comments about 'tapped butts' and 'suggestive talk' to be extremely insensitive to the victims - it is like you have been listening to some propaganda and lost sight of the fact that there are real victims. Do you know how many of these 40 cases could be categorized that way?

    It is sad that these scandals in the Roman Catholic Church have to come before a secular US judge for justice to be meted out to these victims. I honestly can't relate to where you are coming from.

    About your second comment ... I would support reparations to the actual victims but not to their ancestors.

  4. I AM the international and American Roman Catholic community that you claim should be completely exposed to the rapacious greed of attorneys.

    I don't see where San Diego has any choice but to declare bankruptcy. They have churches, schools, hospitals, pension funds, and that's it. Are you suggesting that if they sell all their real estate and tear down all their churches, the attorneys will be satisfied? Should they then get to reach out to another diocese, and another, and another? Should they be permitted to go after dioceses that DID take care of any problem promptly and firmly, or any diocese that has no problems (and that's the huge majority). Do you suggest that I am criminally liable for the forty-year-old sins that happened twenty states to the left?

    Insensitivity to victims? Of course not. When these "class-action" lawyer JERKS entice people who are making accusations with little or no more force than a "tapped butt" or a "dirty word" often accusing a priest who has been dead for a decade, with promises of millions from the allegedly deep pockets of the church, I cannot help but be angry at the lawyers and worry about the basest motives of some of the claimants.

    What do you think makes up the majority of these claims? For every monster like Geoghan and the bishop that ignored his actions, there are dozens of dubious claims and overwrought "victims" screaming for justice, oh, I'm sorry, I mean money.

    What money do you think the Church has? You know Catholics personally, I presume. Ask them how much they put into the collection plate. Now multiply it. WHERE do you think the money is going to come from? There is no secret supply of money to pay these monsters of greed off.

    San Diego largely brought this upon themselves. They are notorious for stonewalling over and over, one of the worst examples of what NOT to do, and they deserve to be humiliated. But in no way does the entire united church, every diocese in every place in the USA, deserve to be raped. Insensitivity? Pardon my caution in the face of one genuine victim backed by ten dubious victims and twenty outright liars.

    How many cases of "trip and falls" are you aware of where people made themselves fall in a grocery store, or did trip in a parking lot and claim permanent damage to their ability to work? We all know about these cheats, and they damage the assistance that can be given to the truly injured. Do you think this is any different? It is, in that there are people who truly hate the Church and have geared up to try and destroy her.

    I know (not well) one abuser and I know (also not well) one priest who was unjustly accused. The abuser offered boys beer and talked about sex with them and was put in treatment but did it again and then got removed, not quite fast enough, but removed, thank God. He has a major problem with boundaries and sexuality and he needs to be kept far, far away from all children, and he is.

    The unjustly accused priest put one hand on the shoulder and one hand on the stomach of a boy who was crying with an upset stomach IN FRONT OF TWENTY PARENTS in a CHURCH HALL. That is the basis of the accusation by one demented greedy parent, and Father was suspended and isolated and lived a life of hell until the other parents managed to get the DA's attention by threatening to go to the media with what they'd been shouting for months; that they'd been present and there was no abuse.

    This is a sad and complicated problem. But your careless statement implies that we have some secret source of endless wealth, or we should sell every hospital and school and church building and roll over and pour out money until everybody gets bored and goes away, which will never happen.

    My diocese started poorly on this issue. We had, I believe, three credibly accused priests over fifty years, and the last bishop was publicly tight-lipped, cold and unrepentant, while at the same time complying with everything the Bishop's Conference demanded: suspension, isolation, treatment, expulsion. Since he obeyed the law and victims were offered settlements and counselling, we haven't been ruined. Our new bishop is trying to make public repentance and accountability and transparency the order of the day, and he's got every member of the diocese behind him; people are DELIGHTED at his public statements of sorrow and remorse.

    You don't know what this is like, because you are not in the middle of it.

  5. So, TZ, in your view it is all about the lawyers. When you say ...

    "I Am the international and American Roman Catholic community"

    ... are you identifying with the clerical establishment (that covered up the systematic abuse of children) and or are you identifying with the Roman Catholic childhood victims? Do you feel that a US judge will award those who were "tapped on the butt" (when they were innocent children) huge amounts of money unjustly?

    What did you think about the Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreeing to pay $660 million to 500 victims? Did our American legal system fail the Catholic Church?

    I guess we come at this differently ... I think that the victims need to have a voice ... I think that a message must be sent to clerical pedophiles and those bishops who covered for them. If they won't change from within then maybe they can change from without as financial pressure is placed on them.

    Do you know what processes are in place in your diocese to handle sexual abuse allegations? Is there a resolve among clergy to turn offenders over to the police and not cover up these crimes?

    I guess my perspective on this comes from two places ... seeing victims of abuse in counseling situations and working with pedophiles in prison ministry. Abuse of children is a serious matter ... if we will not fight dor them how can we call ourselves prolife?

  6. "Do you know what processes are in place in your diocese to handle sexual abuse allegations?"

    Yes. We had it published in our weekly Bulletin, a statement was read by our pastor, all pastors, on a particular Sunday in 2002, so that all could hear it at once. There's an on-line website, pamphlets, we can't miss it. If I so much as want to baby-sit a child in a classroom in the parish hall, or teach a religion class to teenagers, I have to go through a background check and take a "safe touch" course required by the insurance companies.

    "...award those who were "tapped on the butt" (when they were innocent children) huge amounts of money unjustly?"

    (BTW, most of the victims were tennagers, not children, still victims, yes, yes, but not children)

    I can figure out for myself how much public humiliation to the guilty priest should be required, what job he should get to hold for the rest of his life, how many new training programs we have to add in our parish.

    Now, you tell me: how much money is it worth to you to give someone who was (I won't even say claimed) tapped on the butt when he was 15 years old, 25 years ago? Be specific. A million? Five million? A hundred million? Again, what on earth do you think we have?

    (While you're calculating: I got fondled by my optometrist when I was 16, true story. How much exactly should I sue him for? I think about it occasionally, and I think it was rotten of him to do it. I didn't tell my parents at the time because I was confused.

    If I tried to sue, I would be told that the statute of limitations expired long ago. But note that these jerk lawyers continually push to have those statutes removed when it comes to the church, and tell me how that's fair either?)

    Proper procedures have been in place for a long time. After the 1970's and early 1980's when psychologists STOPPED telling bishops that these people could be treated (another whole problem, the bishops were told to send men to treatment and they did, over and over again), the creeps started being dumped.

    Finally, "So, TZ, in your view it is all about the lawyers. When you say ..."I AM the international and American Roman Catholic community ... are you identifying with the clerical establishment (that covered up the systematic abuse of children) and or are you identifying with the Roman Catholic childhood victims?"

    The "clerical establishment" did not cover up anything. Individual bishops and pastors did. Do you get it? There is no *organized* cover-up. I identify with both of them, with every bishop, priest, child, neighbor, stranger, everyone. We are one Body, and we all hurt. We pray weekly, daily in repentance and reparation for the victims and for the souls of the guilty.

    But when a court awards fifty bazillion dollars from the Diocese of X and then tries to get the Diocese of Y and Z to pay for it, and Dioceses A and B in some other country, with three hundred bazillion more tacked on, then I feel that injustice too.

  7. Not sure that there is too much more to say TZ. I think that we have both pretty well articulated where we are on this one :)

    I think that you have helped me see where you are coming from as an "insider" ... I appreciate your loyalty to your church and, while I may not agree with you, better understand where you are coming from.

    I guess part of where I come from is where other members of the RCC come from. Quoting former Oklahoma Gov. Frank Keating who chaired the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' National Review Board examining sex abuse by Catholic Priests:

    "My remarks, which some Bishops found offensive, were deadly accurate. I make no apology... To resist Grand Jury subpoenas, to suppress the names of offending clerics, to deny, to obfuscate, to explain away; that is the model of a criminal organization, not my church."

    In his dialog with Katie Couric last month Gov Keating ended by saying:

    My church allowed some horrible things to go on. I understand how Catholics might wonder about the integrity of their faith and their faith's leaders. Actually, though, my faith is stronger now than it was in 2002. I see now why Christ would have chosen Judas as an apostle, one of the twelve whom Catholics believe were the Church's first bishops. Jesus was making a statement that the leaders of his Church would be frail men, sometimes foolish and sometimes evil. It was a very helpful revelation.

    It is something that I had not considered before and a good point when thinking about these kinds of issues in whatever church one might find themselves.

  8. As some one who knows one of the priests from another state that has been sited for sexually abusing children, he’s guilty BTW, it sickened me to hear that it was known that he was doing this. The solution was to move him to another parish and another and so on. They gave him a short amount of therapy that didn’t work. He hurt children. The church knew what many of these men were doing and did nothing to stop it. They should pay some how they didn’t alert the police and have them arrested instead they hid them and made the victims feel like they were the guilty ones.

  9. Unfortunately, many organizations that do good charitable works, including churches, only take proper precautions when forced by law or fear of lawsuits. Usually it is more from ignorance or denial than deliberate deception, but it's the way people work, religious or not. Of course, when the lawsuit train starts rolling, many hop on for a free ride. But that does not belie the people who rightfully belong there - those irrepairably injured by the evil actions of a few and the furtive actions of many.

    The problem with the Catholic Church is that it is more like a government than an organization and has a long history of silently taking care of it's problems and believing it has higher power than the governments it operates in. There are consequences in this world for actions and behavior, and not even God's people are exempt.


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