04 March, 2011

St. Paul Lawyer Sues Catholic Church, Will Air Ads in Wis.

A sign of the times. Kind of gives new meaning to ambulance chasers, eh? When world wide, the Roman Catholic churches have paid almost 1 billion dollars in settlements, it's staggering to consider how much has flowed into the hands of lawyers. I know that most of these cases are not taken on 'pro-bono' or 'expense only' basis. Victims who have spoken with me say that in Canada, most lawyers charge 20% or more as their fees.

UNDERSTAND THIS PLEASE: I fully support victims in seeking whatever remedy they would want. They have been harmed and are owed appropriate compensation. As confessors, we are taught to require that appropriate compensation be performed by penitents who confess a sin. Why would the Church not be obliged to do the same when they are found to have facilitated (even if unintentionally) the exploitation of innocents and materially cooperated with the crime? No Bishop I know denies this moral obligation. They desire nothing more than to bring peace to broken souls... it is the church's exact reason for existing! My own Bishop +Michael Mulhall made this abundantly clear if reports of a recent public meeting he participated in are correct. Everything he has said and written begin's with an expression of concern for victims. Clearly he is sincere in his conviction.

Yet we constantly hear in the media and throughout out the blogosphere that Bishops are being portrayed as miserly and obstructionist in negotiating settlements. This is a bum rap that is undeserved. As a Bishop of the Church, they have obligations to both the victims and to their flock. They are also responsible as a good shepherd in stewarding a diocese's resources, for they are the accumulated savings of individual donations for a local church. As such, he is morally and canonically bound to respect the responsibility to ensure that the compensation is 'appropriate' so as not to commit an additional injustice to the individual Catholics who contributed to whatever wealth exists.

So, it actually seems to  boil down to this: lawyers strive to maximize the size of any settlement, as the larger the prize, the greater their reward. Church leaders are bound to 'appropriately' balance compensation to victims in a manner that provides good stewardship of the donations of over a billion believers.

'Appropriate'. That is a difficult 'place' to be. Balancing different obligations in a manner that will still allow the Church to continue her mission of preaching and teaching and ensure justice done for victims. Add this one to the ever growing list of reasons why I'd never want to be a Bishop!

Pray for Bishops. I do for mine and others every day. They need our help

1 comment:

  1. I may be in the minority here, nevertheless...another reason you may not want to become a Bishop is that you don't want the responsibility to be part of more illegal cover-ups?
    What you do know or not, only God knows!

    To take those difficult steps to see changes for the better for the clergy abuse victims is a huge self-sacrificing role on your part, that goes for all other priests as well.

    Furthermore, you may need to stand up for MORE victims (who suffer in secrecy, silence and shame) and by doing that you don't want to jeopardized your priesthood(vocation)?
    Loyalty to the Roman Catholic Church is very important and everything to you Fr. Tim.

    As for Jeff Anderson, other lawyers like him and for ALL those who work for justice for clergy abuse victims...I say GOOD for them!

    I totally agree to pray for Bishops and others every day. They all need our help.

    Lina

    ReplyDelete

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