by Susan Matthews
St. Catherine of Siena, patron Saint of Church Reform, pray for us. I write this with a sense of utter futility. The archdiocesan financial reports did not shock me.
Some financial experts are blaming it on the financial “ineptness” of Bevilacqua and Rigali. The former was far from inept. This very smart man knew exactly what he was doing in regard to both money and the sex abuse cases. And you could kiss his ring if you didn’t like it. I remember how lavishly Bevilacqua spent OPM (other people’s money). His helicopter rides from the diocesan rooftop, 100k plus conference table, Sotheby’s-worthy decor for a vacation home, opulent entertaining, top dollar advisers…. All while archdiocesan teachers and social workers were struggling to make ends meet with meager work budgets and wages. Rigali came aboard a sinking ship but jumped into his life boat. That captain wasn’t going down with the diocese.
I give Archbishop Chaput credit for transparency. However, I wonder how this would have gone down had Bevilacqua been alive. Archdiocesan CFO Tim O’Shaughnessy is to be commended for taking pains to point out that the financial woes can’t be pinned on child sex abuse victim compensation. That’s how it would have been spun in the past.
Our families, yours and mine, worked long and hard for the money they put in the baskets week after week. We entrusted it to our Church leaders. Much of it was stolen so a man could live like a king. Sure Philadelphia Catholics were still able to help the marginalized but how many more children could have been fed? How many more sick could have received care? How many more schools and churches could have remained open? Now pedophile priests are set for life on pay offs while innocent priests are left with a depleted pension funds. Is anyone angry yet?
This month’s transparency is of little comfort. Ed Hanway, who leads a foundation that manages the archdiocesan high schools, was quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer as saying, “I think it will ultimately lead to stronger support by the faithful.” He’s probably right. The past is the best predictor of the future. So, the Church will continue to mismanage morality and money and Catholics will keep funding it.
After all, somebody is bankrolling the Catholic lobby fighting the removal of the statute of limitations for child sex abuse in Pennsylvania.
Click here to read: “Archdiocese, with new openness, faces debt,” by David O’Reilly, The Philadelphia Inquirer, July 13, 2013