Let’s see how Catholics try to explain yet another Priest abuse scandal. I don’t think church officials have many options at this point…but who knows what they could pull out from underneath their ecclesiastical hats. Here are a few possibilities:
- Blame al Qaeda…the Taliban…OBL…whatever rolls off the tongue easier or any other “terrorist” d’joure.
- Blame the entire religion of Islam — in that cool Pope “whatever his name is” kinda way.
- Deflect attention by attacking those who are in favor of stem cell research.
- Have former Senator Rick Santorum come out of hiding (or whatever it is that former Senators like him do) and take a job as official Spokesman/Media Relations for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, or “Let’s Get Physical, Physical” church as I like to call it. He could deflect media attention by throwing out some other cause like Darfur. “I know that priest abuse isn’t the best thing in the world…but have you seen what those EVIL, disgusting, hairy-scary-Arab-Mozzlem-monsters are doing to Black babies in Darfur?”
- If all esle fails…see #1.
THE Roman Catholic Church in Los Angeles has apologised to hundreds of people sexually abused by its priests after agreeing to a record $US660 million ($758 million) settlement, the biggest in US history.
Lawyers for the Los Angeles archdiocese and 508 victims of abuse dating back to the 1940s thrashed out the massive settlement on the eve of a potentially explosive court case due to open tomorrow.
Archdiocese head Cardinal Roger Mahony – who has been accused by angry victims of attempting to cover up paedophilia cases during his reign – said today that the cases should never have happened.
“This long journey has now come to an end, and a new chapter of that journey is beginning,” Cardinal Mahony said.
“Once again I apologise to anyone who has been offended, who’s been abused by priests, by deacons, by religious men and women or by lay people … It should not have happened and should not ever happen again.”
Cardinal Mahony said he was haunted by the fact that victims would never be able to reclaim their innocence.
“It is the one part of the settlement process I find so frustrating, because the one thing I wish I could give the victims, I cannot,” he said.
Ray Boucher, the lead lawyer for the victims, said the settlement was “long overdue”.
“Some of the victims have waited more than five decades for a chance at reconciliation and resolution,” Mr Boucher said. “This is a down payment on that debt long overdue.”
Lawyers for both sides will appear in Los Angeles Superior Court tomorrow to file the settlement, which must be approved by a judge.
The deal will be the largest settlement by any Roman Catholic archdiocese to sex abuse victims in the United States.
Abuse cases across the country have cost Roman Catholic churches around $US2.1 billion ($2.43 billion) to date. Several priests have been convicted and at least four dioceses have gone bankrupt paying civil penalties.
The Los Angeles church is expected to sell off assets from its estimated $US4 billion ($4.62 billion) real estate holdings to pay for the settlement.
The church had already settled 46 cases in December for $US60 million ($69.34 million).
John Manly, a lawyer who represented around 50 victims who now stand to receive payouts of $US1.2 ($1.39) to $US1.3 million ($1.5 million) dollars each, said the archdiocese had settled to avoid the embarrassment of a court case.
Mr Manly said the release of internal documents as part of the settlement would raise questions over the leadership of Cardinal Mahony.
“I think when people see the documents and see what he knew and what he did they will be stunned,” Mr Manly said.
Victims accuse Cardinal Mahony of allegedly covering up evidence child molestation by transferring priests to other churches and for trying to keep the abuse reports secret.
“Cardinal Mahony paying out money is great, but where is the accountability from the hierarchy of the church?” Mr Manly said. “They will continue their lives as normal; the victims still have to deal with a lifetime of problems.”
Barbara Blaine, the leader of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a nationwide victims support group, meanwhile called the settlement “wonderful news for all the victims”.
She praised the “brave victims, compassionate lawmakers and victims’ attorneys, who took hard, uncertain cases and overcame seemingly endless hardball tactics by bishops” to win the case.
Ms Blaine said she believed the church had settled not out of compassion, but to avoid disclosing “under oath, in open court, how much the church’s corporate officials knew about and how little they did about pedophile priests, nuns, brothers and seminarians”.
Ms Blaine said she hoped the church documents detailing the abuse cases would expose the truth.
– The diocese of Spokane, Washington, recently emerged from bankruptcy after agreeing to pay $US48 million to settle about 150 claims.
– The Orange diocese, in California, paid out $US100 million in 2004 to settle 90 claims.