Skip to comments.Sexual abuse hits Church finances: Even the Vatican is now being sued
Posted on 05/04/2002 7:40:00 AM PDT by history_matters
Payments to victims of sexual abuse by priests in the United States could reach $1bn.
The estimate is quoted by the leading Catholic magazine America, which says many people are so angry about the scandal that they want to punish the church.
In addition to multi-million dollar law suits, it is thought that some Roman Catholics may now withhold donations to the church.
And many insurance companies, who used to offer the Church cover for claims of sexual abuse, are said to be no longer prepared to take the risk.
The reason is the size of the payments being made to victims, either in jury awards or out-of-court settlements.
The Archdiocese of Boston alone is facing costs estimated at $100m, and new cases are emerging across the country.
Last week two American men who say they were abused as teenagers began legal action against the Vatican.
The magazine says estimates of the total payments made since 1985 ranged from $350m to $1bn.
"But no-one really knows, because in many cases the court records are sealed," it says in an editorial.
The amounts were often kept secret at the insistence of the insurance companies, who preferred to settle out of court because legal fees could amount to $500,000 per case.
The magazine says that following a large jury award in 1985, practically all insurance companies had excluded cover for sexual abuse from their liability policies.
It warns that if church assets have to be liquidated to settle claims, it could mean less money for scholarships, parish schools, soup kitchens and shelters for the homeless.
The editorial says the payments made to victims were not so much "hush money" as attempts to help them meet the cost of therapy and rebuild their lives.
"Even so, many Catholics have expressed outrage that their donations are being used to pay millions of dollars to victims of abuse for out of court settlements or jury awards," says America.
The magazine says anger over the crimes was not only being directed at the perpetrators, but also at church officials who had failed to take action to protect children.
Many dioceses were now turning over to the authorities the names of priests accused of sexual abuse.
But many people also wanted to punish the church, specifically the bishops who moved priests to new parishes where they had abused again and again.
"Some Catholics are so angry with their bishop that they are calling for a boycott of donations to the diocese," it says.
"Many intend to give to their local parish, but not the bishop."
The magazine also questions to size of awards being made by juries.
"Multi-million dollar awards, like the boycotting of diocesan collections, punish the wrong people," it argues in its editorial.
"Big jury awards make sense as a way to punish profit-making businesses, but they are a very blunt instrument for dealing with non-profit organizations, which have no stockholders.
"The church is not just the bishops, it is the people in the pews. There are no deep pockets with unlimited funds. Churches depend on the small weekly contributions from their congregations.
"Punishing the church means punishing the people of God and those they serve. Justice demands that we find another way."
"America" is a liberal rag serving people who are Catholic in name only. Fr. Thomas Reese is a pro-deviancy spokesperson.
I don't see why the insurers should have had to pay anything after the first offense per individual. I also don't see why the insurers didn't lean on the archdiocese and say, "Keep this one away from kids -- we're not paying for him again."
Insurers aren't the list bit shy about insisting that ordinary policyholders minimize risk.
"Leading?" The only thing America mag is leading is a left wing effort to destroy the Church from within. The Jesuits are part of the problem it seems, not the solution.
That's a very good point. I do dog rescue in my spare time and we often have to deal with insurance companies who cancel homeowners insurance because of dog bites. They have threatened to cancel even where a stranger was bitten when, without permission, he climbed a fence into someone's back yard. (Seems to me the dog should have received a medal rather than a reprimand).
Yet, when it came to rapist priests, the insurance people seemed to look the other way and continued coverage. I don't have a heck of lot of sympathy for the insurance companies if that is what happened.
How extensive is abuse of teenage girls and children by lesbians? Anybody know?
Personally, I think you're making stuff up. There is no evidence that there is any kind of problem with "lesbian nuns" and girls in their charge. Just how extensive is female rape?
However I have known a lot of girls who told me that nuns used to take them aside and talk about how wearing "indecent" underwear would "lead boys on" and the nuns seemed keen to talk about what kind of underwear the girls owned and wore...)
You mean like the Vice-Principal in a public school out in California who just last week was checking for thong underwear?
There are prudish busybodies in all professions, the Catholic sisterhood has had and will continue to have its share. But to act as if there's some looming abuse problem among nuns is just ludicrous.
Is there also one in Ocean City, NJ?