Back in 1994, the Archdiocese of New Orleans embarked upon a major fund-raising
drive, whose goal was to raise
$20 million. I couldn't help but feel that it was a remarkable coincidence that the media were reporting that the archdiocese
was spending more than $20 million to settle lawsuits stemming from the actions of priests accused of molesting children in various parishes in the area. For someone who was raised about as Catholic as they come, this was really too much for me. Oh, it wasn't the arrogance of staging a 'Bicentennial Fund Drive' as a cover for the real reason the money was needed,
but the sheer size of the monetary settlements being paid out. I couldn't help but wonder that, had those people been
treated with dignity and respect by their church, would they be looking for such sums? But here we were, with the
same guys who stonewalled these people and abused their trust and dignity turning to the rest of us to pay their tab.
Of my many gripes with the Roman Catholic Church, this has got to be
the biggest. In any other business, a person in an executive management
position would get his walking papers if he allowed subordinates to conduct
themselves in such a manner that resulted in lawsuits totaling in excess
of $20 million. Still, in New Orleans, Dallas, Boston, and many other dioceses,
the men responsible for managing the affairs of the Church remained in
their positions. Why is this?
Because the corporate headquarters in Rome doesn't see the issue as being as important as other things happening
in the church. One would think that the financial consequences of such poor management would encourage the corporate headquarters to bring in competent leadership, but the head-in-the-sand attitude prevails.
Of course, this doesn't even say anything about the moral and legal
implications of management inaction and irresponsibility. Were any of these
bishops personally involved in covering up criminal behavior? Surely there
were people in positions of authority who knew what pedophiles were doing
and covered it up. Sending some of these men away for "rehabilitation"
is tantamount to abetting flight to avoid prosecution. Still, no action taken by the home office to straighten out the mess.
And let's not forget the moral implications of telling the family of a young boy who has been buggered by a priest that
the kid is dead wrong and they should keep their mouths shut.