Yesterday the Catholic Pope told participants the following at a seminar: “Every year hundreds of billions of dollars, which should be paid in taxes to fund health care and education, accumulate in tax haven accounts, thus impeding the possibility of the dignified and sustained development of all social agents.” Well, every day the Catholic Church is using the statute of limitations law as a safe haven to avoid compensating survivors of clergy abuse thus impeding their ability to be validated, obtain counseling, and other services and recognition they deserve.
So we suggest the Pope leads by example and redistributes the Church’s wealth to the many, many people it allowed to be abused for decades. Do as you say, Pope Francis. Rather than continue employing strategies to limit payouts to survivors of your institution’s abuse, redistribute the vast wealth of the Church to them. Wealth, by the way, accumulated from the very communities the Church’s abusers victimized.
The Catholic Church Allowed Children to be Abused for Decades
Rather than protect children, church leaders moved pedophile priests from one church to another when victims spoke up. Sex abuse was institutionalized in the Church. As reported recently, “For most of the 20th century, the Catholic Church in the U.S. minimized the damage wrought by pedophile priests by covering up the abuse. When the bishop of the Davenport, Iowa, diocese was told in the mid-1950s that one of his priests was sexually abusing boys at a local YMCA, he kept it secret. ‘It is consoling to know that no general notoriety has arisen, and I pray none may result….'” As adults, these survivors have been triggered by the many reports that have surfaced. They have been re-traumatized to learn again how the church hid these abuses.
A report in Pennsylvania aptly described how the perpetrators weaponized religion to exploit children. This went on for decades. Now that survivors are connecting the dots between their broken lives and the abuse the Church permitted, the Church is using the law as a “haven” to avoid accountability. The Church is impeding thousands of people from “the possibility of [a] dignified and sustained” personal development. Yet from a glass house, the Pope preaches about wealth distribution.
Here’s what the Church is doing instead of distributing its wealth to the people it abused for decades. Despite many similar depraved actions, the Church is now shielding money from survivors.
The Catholic Church Uses the Law as a Haven Just Like Those Pope Francis Attacks
As noted in the same article, the Church uses bankruptcy as a “haven.” Here’s one example, “The Chapter 11 filing of the archdiocese in Santa Fe shows how easy and routine it is to rejigger a balance sheet. The archdiocese was facing a few dozen clergy abuse suits when it filed in December 2018, saying it was too poor to defend itself. The number rose to about 375 by the June 2019 deadline that the bankruptcy court had set for victims to file claims.”
So the Pope, the leader of the Vatican wants to take money from people and spread it around. Very noble. Perhaps he should start with the riches of the Vatican and the people that were molested, terrorized, threatened, and abused for decades. It seems hypocritical to criticize the wealthy for using laws to shield money from taxes while doing the same thing, but in a far worse context. After all, “the Vatican guides the dioceses in both their financial reorganization and their positions regarding settlements . . . .” So please leave your glass house at the Vatican and help these people Pope Francis.
Sexual Abuse Survivors Have Rights, But Only in Some States
Some states have changed their laws to allow survivors to bring civil actions against the church and other institutional actors. Very few have done so. More are considering it. So survivors may have a civil claim that a lawyer could bring on their behalf. These are sensitive cases that can be complex, so it is important to contact a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss one’s options.