Bishops’ Victim Compensation Plan Ignores Greater Good

Bishops Victim Compensation Plan Ignores Greater Good

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.

Read the statement here.

In a 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 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.

Survivors No Longer Walking Thin Line

In the wake of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on clergy child sex abuse, 900 survivors have called a hotline launched by the attorney general’s office.

PA Clergy Abuse Hotline: 888-538-8541

For many, that call was the first time they shared their abuse.

I vividly remember the first time our pediatrician went over good touch/bad touch with my toddler-aged daughter during a routine exam in 2000. It took me by surprise. The doctor explained it was part of her training and protocol. It was a simple protective measure that hadn’t occurred to me.

Growing up in the 80s, there wasn’t an ABC afterschool special titled, “The Day Father Mark Molested Me.” It wasn’t even a blip on my radar. I knew kids were abused, but I thought it was really rare and happened somewhere else.

It took the release of the 2011 Grand Jury Report about the clergy sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to hit home – literally. I couldn’t understand why the world, or at least my part of the world, wasn’t more shaken.

Many of the survivors were my age and grew up within miles. After suffering in silence for years, they were telling loved ones and strangers that they’d lived a lie by omission – and by necessity.

There’s a fine line between self-preservation and self-destruction when it comes to surviving child sex abuse. The disbelief, rejection, stigma and additional trauma of disclosure has to be weighed against the hope for acceptance, support and healing.

It may finally be easier to choose the latter. I sense a cultural shift since the latest grand jury report, the Me Too movement and widespread media coverage of sex abuse.

According to therapists, when those who endure trauma share their story out loud, it helps them acknowledge it. Then healing can begin, but only if those listening really hear them.

It’s become loud and clear. Public awareness and support is growing. Maybe even more important, survivors know their numbers now. The percentage of the population is staggeringly high.

Neither Kathy or I are survivors, but the statistical odds tell us that someone we love is a survivor or will become one. Neither is an acceptable circumstance. Support and protect.







Claims that Vatican and Pope Knew of Clergy Abuse Cover Up Emerge

The Vatican knew of a cover-up involving abusive priests, Pennsylvania AG says,” by Holly Yan, CNN, August 28, 2018

“Pope Francis Long Knew of Cardinal’s Abuse and Must Resign, Archbishop says,” by Jason Horowitz, The New York Times, August 26, 2018

Does anyone believe that the Pope didn’t know? Clearly many in Ireland believe he knew or stopped considering the Church altogether. Not surprising given the horrific abuses the faithful there suffered at the hands of the institutional Church.

“Pope Ends Visit To A Disillusioned Ireland, Where Church Authority Has Plunged,” by Frank Langfitt, NPR, August, 27, 2018

Speaking of disillusioned, Catholics In Action organized a gathering near the Cathedral Basilica of SS Peter and Paul on Sunday, August 26.  Advocates, victims and their families met to share outrage, support and prayer.

“Philly Catholic group calls for action outside the Cathedral Basilica,” by Antionette Lee,, August 26, 2018

Petition Requests Leadership Resignations

The statement and petition: “Statement of Catholic Theologians, Educators, Parishioners & Lay Leaders on Clergy Sexual Abuse in the United States”


“Today, we call on the Catholic Bishops of the United States to prayerfully and genuinely consider submitting to Pope Francis their collective resignation as a public act of repentance and lamentation before God and God’s People.

We urge them to follow the example of Chile’s thirty-four bishops, who resigned collectively in May of this year after revelations of widespread sexual abuse and corruption were brought to light. Through prudent discernment, Pope Francis ultimately accepted three of these thirty-four resignations. It should be noted that the active bishop-to-Catholic ratio is almost the same in Chile and the United States, and that the geographical scope of the crisis in this country appears to surpass that of Chile. After years of suppressed truth, the unreserved decisiveness of the Chilean bishops’ resignations communicated to the faithful a message that Catholics in the United States have yet to hear, with an urgency we have yet to witness: We have caused this devastation. We have allowed it to persist. We submit ourselves to judgment in recompense for what we have done and failed to do….”

Who Will the Catholic Church Drive Out?


Please listen to the homily that begins at the 1:43 minute mark.

This homily was delivered a week prior to the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report by the pastor of the parish where I would attend Mass if I were a “practicing” Catholic. I’m just an average Catholic.

I met Father Marks, who delivered this homily, at an event a year ago. Prior to his ordination, he worked in business and then as a lawyer. He’s the kind of priest who makes me miss Mass. Statistical likelihoods aside, I remind myself that any person I meet could be an awful human being. So, I don’t assume that every priest I encounter is a child predator or involved in a cover up. So when a friend shared this link, I listened.

His message of not letting evil get in the way made me think. I’ve separated my faith from the tragic abuse and cover up – the divine from the human. So why can’t I just plunk myself down in the pew and participate?

“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”

Jesus didn’t intend for us to ignore our sins or the sins of others in the Church. As our moms taught us, saying sorry isn’t enough. We also need to act differently. There are hundreds of Cardinal McCarricks who remain in ministry – many even seemingly rewarded with positions – even at the Vatican.

The hierarchy hasn’t driven evil out. Instead, it enables cover ups to flourish. They only take action when public outcry reaches the highest decibel or the legal system demands it. Leadership hides behind arcane, politically-driven Vatican protocols that trickle down into a warped culture of clericalism. Many, including myself, feel participating in the institutional Church makes them complicit in the hypocrisy and deceit.

Father Marks is confident in Catholicism’s future based on its 2,000 years of existence. This offers him proof of God’s intent. My Dad has said the same. That’s a long time. But Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and many other major religions also share that timeline.

Why can’t I just plunk myself down in the pew?  I turn to the always helpful follow up question, “What would Jesus do?” “What would He do if abusers and those who cover it up refuse to leave the Church?”

Clean the temple out. Or one day, only the moneychangers will remain.

– Susan



Archdiocesan Web Banner Refuses Truth

Archbishop Chaput’s response to the PA Grand Jury Report is topped off by a website banner that refuses to acknowledge the truth. It neglects to say the Archdiocese isn’t in the latest Grand Jury Report because its abuse and cover up was revealed in Grand Jury Reports released in 2011 and 2005. Why were two Grand Jury Reports necessary? Because the lie and cover up continued after the first investigation and report. They seem to continue today.

Here is a recap of the last two months on C4C:

· Priests from the Philadelphia Archdiocesan hierarchy preside at the funerals of predator priests.

· A porn-addicted priest investigated for possible child porn is reinstated and stationed at the Cathedral, where he was present at a high school Baccalaureate Mass. A clergy sex abuse survivor happened to be in attendance and was shocked. No response from Leslie Davila, Archdiocesan director of office for child and youth protection (OCYP).

· C4C contacted the Archdiocese twice requesting that an abusive priest’s falsely flattering bio information be removed from a parish website. No response to Kathy’s email sent to Leslie Davila, OCYP director. No archdiocesan outreach to victim.

· Some abusive priests were transferred from the prayer and penance program at Villa St Joseph to St Francis Nursing Home…. where young children visit grandparents. Visitors not informed.

· Although the Archdiocese touts the Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries as protecting children, they never teach kids the specific Standards. How are children supposed to know what and when to report?

· The Archdiocese has never adequately answered this question: Do the “Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries” apply equally for 18-year-old high school students as they do for their minor peers. In other words, is it age-based or student-based?

· After 15 months of Kathy’s advocating, the Archdiocese will still not agree to a written policy that parents must be informed when their child is the victim of a boundary violation. No one from the Archdiocese has helped – including OCYP.

· The just-released Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report details that child predators were sent to St. John Vianney Treatment Center – located directly across the street from Bishop Shanahan high school. CHILD PREDATORS. We have worked on
that issue for 5 long years. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia owns the facility and they also receive payment to accept the priest child predators from out-of-state Dioceses.

The more things change, the more they stay the same.