by Susan Matthews
Last week, Pennsylvania bishops issued a joint statement outlining a myopic and self-serving plan for compensating past victims of clergy child sex abuse.
In a PhillyCatholic.com editorial on the statement, Archbishop Chaput seemingly boasts about how the archdiocesan victim’s assistance program “has quietly served hundreds of abuse victims and their families for more than 15 years and underwritten their therapy and care in an amount totaling more than $18 million.”
Grand Juries = Grand Gestures
First, let’s state the obvious. None of it would have been necessary if the hierarchy hadn’t allowed priests to continue abusing children while covering it up for DECADES.
Why did it take another Grand Jury report for the bishops to make this grand gesture? Is that commitment or public relations? I think it’s the latter combined with a strategic lobbying effort. One PhillyCatholic.com reader, Anita, writes in the comments section, “So now the bishops are pledging ‘new’ aid….if the statute of limitations issue was not on PA’s radar screen would these ‘new’ funds have been available?”
If this gesture were at all sincere, these resources would be available even if the statute of limitations were to be temporarily lifted for civil cases. But they aren’t.
Crystal Clear Agenda (For Once)
“We’re committed to dedicating substantially more resources to the task of helping survivors, unless destructive, retroactive statute of limitations legislation makes that impossible.”
Note the word – “unless.” Chaput explains “destructive” by warning that parishes may go bankrupt. Are any of bishops concerned about moral bankruptcy? They’ve become pros at mitigating financial risk and placing the burden on those in the pews.
For insight, check out: The Bishop’s Alter Ego: Enterprise Liability and the Catholic Priest Sex Abuse Scandal, Journal of Catholic Legal Studies
Ignores Justice for ALL Victims
The bishops’ compensation plan doesn’t take into account ALL victims of child sex abuse. What about those abused by an uncle or a coach? Shouldn’t they be entitled to pursue compensation through a civil case? The bishops’ plan doesn’t even apply to victims abused by Catholic order priests – only diocesan clergy. Semantics. They’ll let Franciscans or Oblates teach in archdiocesan schools and celebrate Mass at parishes, but they won’t take responsibility for them. Retroactive statute of limitations legislation would apply to everyone.
Doesn’t Protect Kids
This legislation also provides an important element of prevention. Not all of these alleged abusers are dead. One could be living next to your granddaughter or your nephew. They are in a community living in anonymity alongside children. The legal process allows for identification and public awareness.
Read “No One Is Monitoring Former Abusive Priests,” by the National Catholic Reporter
Yes, it’s disheartening that the diocesan coverups in Pennsylvania have put so much at risk. That’s why the Pope should create a betrayal compensation plan for parishes, Catholic social services and other ministries. I don’t blame the legal system. The blame lies squarely with the Church.
10 thoughts on “Bishops’ Victim Compensation Plan Ignores Greater Good”
I am a victim of sexual abuse in 1952 at the age of 6 until the age of 13 by 2 priests and a nun. I ended up getting PG by one of the priests and my child was aborted by a mid wife at the age of 12… No one would believe me because i hadn’t Remembered the abuse until the age of 70. I am now 72. I insisted on confrontting the Arcchbishop In Albuquerque , New Mexico and made an appointment to meet with him , which i did along with my Psychiatrist.I also wrote a letter to the Pope A year ago (2 times) To tell him what happened to me And never got a response. Very few people or Drs believe in Repressed Memory but I am here to tell you it can happen becuse it is so traumatic and has caused me many Priblems including contemplating siucide.. . I want to write a book but dont have the money to do so and hope that someday this will all be known to the world , The Sexual Abuses In New Mexico and how our abuse is being ignored because it happened so long ago.. ( Statute Of Limitations)..
New Mexico is a state that very much needs to conduct an investigation into clergy sex abuse and the coverup by the Hierarchy. From the nineteen fifties until it closed, Bishops from across the country sent their problem priests to the Paraclete treatment center in Jemez Springs, in New Mexico. Many of those priests remained in New Mexico after their treatment. Needless to say, many of those priests abused more children.You are correct when you say many people do not believe in repressed memoriesI was abused at the age of twelve and kept those memories buried until I was forty. We repress our memories because we cannot deal with the abuse, when we are children and even into adulthood. .After two years of sobriety and counseling the memories came back.There are days when I wish they had never come back.I hope you continue to speak out about the abuse. I have found that the more I talk about it, the less effects it has on my life. For a good part of my youth and into adulthood, I have struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts. For the most part, that is not the case anymore. Good luck in your recovery.
I agree with you 100% “word 5915”. What a brave woman you are. How horrible.. the horrible treatment and disregard for your precious life.
The bishops seem to still be listening intently to their lawyers. This has cost the church many of its GOOD people. The AD’s in PA should suffer the financial burden that their bishops and their lawyers have caused. What will remain after the survivors have been able to receive some justice may be a poor church in $$ but maybe they will regain some of their valuable people who have walked out the doors. This offering appears to be part of the “Toxic Waters of the Ecclesial Swamp” that Thomas Doyle brings to the forefront. The days are gone when the bishops can fix their mess alone.The states need to determine laws that will help survivors with the healing process and protect all children-past, present and future. If nothing else- natural law has been violated by those who claim to protect all human life. It seems to me- and I just have a little knowledge here- there should be an investigation in every state including New Mexico- offering all our citizens an opportunity to come forward and make a report anytime they can find the words. Thank you!
It has been a long and painful road for me to make the transition from a victim to a survivor. I have never worked harder at anything in my life. My hard work has resulted in nearly 11 years clean from a nasty heroin addiction, a nine year run as a guest speaker at the Virtus classes raising awareness and educating people on the subject of childhood sexual abuse. I am also a chemical dependency counselor. What I want from Pope Frank is the following: His admission that he knew about the sexual terrorization of children all along, in addition, he takes full responsibility for his leadership in the cover-up by admitting he put money power and prestige over the sexual abuse of thousands of victims, and that he resign immediately. I want every victim out there to know that you can still make a good life for yourself if you have the desire and willingness to do the necessary difficult work on yourself while on the road of recovery. My hard work has resulted in becoming the best version of myself, ever.
For ten years I have been pointing out the abuse in the Diocese of Scranton. At times I think I would have achieved more by standing at the oceanfront and screaming at the Atlantic than blogging. My biggest mistake was reporting what happened to me when I was 13 at the hands of Robert Gibson (aka “Father Ned”)to the Diocese. The diocese used that report to collect information and try to isolate me. I have been of the mind that the Catholic Church will not change its business model when dealing with credible allegations against predator priests until it has to pay a vulgar price for its complicity in protecting these monsters. That vulgar price is not necessarily money alone. I want all the Bishops to offer their resignations. Only those who had no part in protecting predators at the expense of innocent children can stay. A panel, including survivors, should make recommendations on who will go and who will remain. As for the “Compensation Fund”, that was not a recommendation of the Grand Jury and it should not be considered. The Governor of Pennsylvania has demanded a bill that will allow for a window to be established for survivors to get justice. The insurance industry and the Diocese want the Compensation Fund to make it look like they are contrite. Don’t be fooled, they don’t care about anything but their bottom line. Damage control recommendations for the Dioceses are not my concern. It is time for the harsh light of justice to illuminate the depths of the Bishops’ collusion and obstruction. If the Dioceses end up bankrupt, so be it. It is funny how all of this could have been avoided if they had done the right thing from the beginning. I have no sympathy for those who treated me and other survivors with such incredible disdain.
Michael. You are spot on. I just located a research paper that I wrote on Clergy Sexual Abuse: The Principles of Catholic Social Teaching. Its dated April, 2004. I wrote it for a theology class I was taking on social justice.. At that point, I think just over 1,000 victims in the entire country and 350 priest were identified. Since then,numerous grand jury reports and more victims but no social justice- only silent payoffs.
I am with Gov Wolf. I contacted my state reps a few times. Our laws in PA need to change. The church should not be involved in discouraging a legal system that would protect innocent children and young adults. History has taught us that the church is not serious about reconciliation with its victims, laity and innocent clergy. If the diocese ends up bankrupt, then it would be the natural consequences for the deeds done by the “ecclesial swamp” in allowing children to be victims of sexual assault and protecting the criminals who attacked them. Keep on writing!
Asking everyone to contact their Senators to pass the Bill. Not many days left to get the Bill thru. I was at the Justice Center in Doylestown today. Mark Rozzi had a press conference their today and a few Reps. and also a few people running for Senator were there. Alot of the local Senators have not responded where they are on this Bill. Even the news reporters said the Senators weren’t replying. Didn’t Jesus say in the bible “Let your “Yes” mean “Yes” and your “No” mean “No”. Anything else is from the Evil One”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8jqo0TVFEdk Know that God loves you dearly and please pray and act on His Will in your life especially in “these times that try men’s souls”. Amen
I am in my 70’s and still have flashbacks of sexual abuse in the 50’s. Told no one b/c I knew instinctively that NO ONE WOULD BELIEVE ME! Believe it or not I was approached by another priest in my 30’s and again in my 50’s. Needless to say I told no one again b/c I was beginning to think I was giving out some kind of weird messages to these priests! I know now it definitely wasn’t me but know these priests’ needed help and I know one of them did receive help thank God. I still can’t attend Mass b/c I still feel in my gut that I would stand up and YELL OUT LOUD…..LIARS!!!