Always wanted to read Alice in Wonderland but never gotten around to it? Here’s another idea.
Try reading why the Syracuse Catholic diocese claims it is ‘bankrupt.’
Sound weird? Well, believe us, some of its claims are fascinating/
Sound daunting? Well, some of the MOST fascinating parts are just a few paragraphs long.
And if it didn’t deal with the awful and largely preventable crisis of kids being assaulted by clergy, it could even be considered somewhat laughable.
Earlier this month, Syracuse Bishop Doug Lucia basically stonewalled dozens of clergy sex abuse victims who need and deserve healing and justice by stopping their lawsuits, exploiting Chapter 11 protection and going into bankruptcy court.
In our view, it’s a selfish decision. It’s designed to primarily protect NOT the child molesting clerics, but the clerics who saw, suspected, knew about and ignored or concealed literally thousands of crimes against kids.
It achieves this goal by preventing lawsuits, discovery, depositions and other disclosures that would show how much Syracuse Catholic officials knew about abuse, how little they did to stop it and how much they did to hide it.
But never mind our view. Listen to them. Check out these ‘reasons’ Syracuse church officials give, for claiming bankruptcy. (These quotes come from the formal “The Declaration of Rev. Msgr. Timothy Elmer,” a high-ranking diocesan staffer.)
The diocese is bankrupt, it says, because it has “limited resources.”
Sounds reasonable, until you factor in all the insurance coverage the diocese has paid perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars for over decades. And all the physical property it owns. And all the weekly donations it brings in. And the wealth of other Catholic dioceses and institutions, even the Vatican, that could be shared to help victims of abuse.
(By the way, do you know anyone or anything that doesn’t have ‘limited resources?’)
The diocese is in bankruptcy court, it says, “in order to provide the greatest recovery for the greatest number of victims.”
Really? Seriously? Does anyone believe that Bishop Lucia gets up each morning and says “My number one goal is to get and then give out the most amount of money to the most victims of pedophile priests? And if that’s really the goal, could someone please explain when and how this dramatic reversal happened? Because for decades, Catholic officials in Syracuse behaved just like their colleagues elsewhere: denying wrongdoing, exploiting technicalities, hiring spin doctors, stone-walling lawsuits, attacking victims and on and on and on. . .
The diocese is bankrupt, it also says, because it “cannot allow any single (victim) to recover a disproportionate share of the limited funds simply because the plaintiff’s case goes to trial first.”
Sounds reasonable, until you remember who started this whole mess. It wasn’t victims. It was church officials. And now church officials insist that THEY get to dole our dollars, not the time-tested US court system and unbiased US jurors.
The diocese is bankrupt, it also says, because it “cannot ignore the valid claims of other creditors who stand on equal footing with (child sex abuse victims). . .”
Really? Bishop Lucia is claiming he’s got the same obligation to the local hardware store owner (who is owed maybe $500 for light bulbs the diocese bought) that he’s got to a woman who may have been raped dozens of times by a prominent priest?”
The diocese claims other reasons it is supposedly bankrupt, but the bulk of Elmer’s declaration is all about how sorry it is, how it made mistakes in the past, how it doesn’t want to “deny any person a day in court” (though that’s precisely what it’s doing).
But if all of Catholic officials say here is true, how can they explain the final paragraph of Elmer’s declaration? In it, he argues that “a swift exit from bankruptcy is of the utmost importance.” Guess why.
Because victims are hurting, maybe even suicidal? Nope.
Because some of the pedophiles might still be on the church payroll? Nope.
Because some of the predators might be raping kids even now, because they’re still living and working among unsuspecting neighbors, friends, colleagues and families? Nope.
Because Catholics are leaving the church and the political influence of its officials is waning? Nope.
Rather, the “swift exit” from bankruptcy is of “utmost importance,” Elmer says, for church finances.
He’s not that honest, of course. He’s more savvy in his wording. Elmer wants out of bankruptcy quickly, he says, because the diocese is “dependent upon the charity of its faithful” and bankruptcy “may cast a shadow upon the diocese.”
In other words, “the sooner we can pretend all this abuse and cover up are over, the sooner the big bucks will start rolling back to us.”
Ah yes! We forgot for a minute. The financial good of the institution ALWAYS comes first.
We should be grateful, we suppose, that a few kernels of truth managed to find their way into an otherwise beyond-the-pale legal document that makes Alice in Wonderland seem almost boring.