Maybe Worth Getting Upset about, Maybe Not

Maybe Worth Getting Upset about, Maybe Not May 31, 2012

The NY Times has a story about Cdl. Dolan providing what some call “financial incentives” and others call “payoffs” to pervy priests in order to get them to agree to leave the priesthood immediately rather than fight out a long drawn out process.

There is much dudgeon in the article. There is no dudgeon–none whatsoever–about the fact that exactly the same tactic is used to get rid of pervy public school teachers. This, and the lionization of the Right Sort of Roman makes me rather inclined to think this a specimen of the Times indulging in fake dudgeon because of Dolan’s leadership against the HHS mandate. In short, it’s a hit piece in the service of another agenda.

In the end, the story seems to be that Dolan tried to get rid of bad priests as fast as possible, which used to be a good thing according to the Times. Since the state did not see fit to get rid of them by putting them in jail and the canonical process might for all I know, have cost *more* than this route (has anybody done the calculations?) I don’t think it’s particularly a slam dunk that this was a bad way to go. In the end, the tradeoff is between asking, “Do you want a long expensive process in which the perv remains a priest on the payroll while he games the system endlessly or do you want a short process in which he gets some money and we are rid of him?” I, for one, am not ready to have hysterics about Plan B–at least till I know the cost of the full canonical rigamarole for laicizing a perv.

You pays your money and you makes your choice: is it more important to get rid of the perv swiftly even if it costs you something (that used to be the very sensible demand of the Times, if you recall)? Or do you keep the perv around for months or even years (while it still costs you something and perhaps costs even more than it would cost you to just get rid of him)? I care more about getting rid of the perv fast than I do about money. So even if the long canonical process were cheaper than $20,000 (and I strongly suspect it is not) I think I’d be inclined to favor the fast route. The only drawback is that the perv gets the money. So is it more important to me that the perv not get the dough or that innocents are protected from a perv? I opt for innocents protected over my desire for vengeance.

The screeches of hysteria from the Times, like SNAP’s bizarre demand that the Church effectively imprison laicized priests, seem less and less about protecting anybody and more and more about saying anything to attack the Church. The Church can’t arrest or imprison pervy priests. It can only get rid of them as quickly as possible. She can do it slowly and expensively or swiftly and less expensively. The latter option is good enough for me.

Dolan’s real crime here is leading the charge against the HHS mandate. That’s what this is really about.

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  • The NY Times is a joke on this issue in particular. They get all bent out of shape over perversion in the Church when, for a large number of their employees, perversion is a way of life. One wonders what sorts of filth would come out if the Times was subjected to the same sort of institutional colonoscopy that the Church has been through.

  • Jack Smith

    Mark – You’ll remember that when the Western Dominicans decided to keep their unindicted pervs in the order precisely so they could force them under obedience to stay under supervision at St. Albert’s Priory in Oakland that SNAP had a hissy about that too. They can not be pleased.

    • Mark Shea

      I remember it well.

  • rita

    I don’t know about the diocese but have had dealings with E/0 attorneys. In my experience they INSISTED we settle when the amount to settle is far less than expense of litigation. You have NO option if you wish to keep the insurance

  • Marion (Mael Muire)

    Mark, you know why it is morally incumbent upon the Times to excoriate Cardinal Dolan if he does anything, if he doesn’t do anything, if he stops at a red light: excoriate him; if he turns right on red: excoriate him; if he celebrates Mass on Sunday: excoriate him; if he doesn’t celebrate Mass on Sunday because unwell: excoriate him; he clears his throat before he speaks; excoriate him.

    The ideology of those who publish the Times defines so-called sexual freedom (pbui) and its handmaidens, abortion and contraception (pbut), as non-negotiable Supreme Goods Which Must Be Available To All.

    If you asked those at the Times which in their view represents the greater advancement to mandkind’s well-being: contraceptives or antibiotic drugs, they would be utterly stymied.

    “Saving lives is all well as far as it goes,” they would reply, “but without perfectly realized reproductive freedom, how can we say that in any meaningful way those same lives would even be worth living?”

    The Catholic Church in general and Cardinal Dolan in particular oppose all that is Advanced and Enlightened about contemporary sexual mores. They are backward. They are benighted. They are bad. They should be silenced. And since they refuse to remain silent, they must be verbally ripped, shredded, burned, nay-said, and badmouthed whenever, and wherever possible. Fair means or foul. Anything goes.

    This is, after all, the prestige and the moral legitimacy of Birth Control (pbui) we are talking about here. Whatever it takes to uphold that, the Times will undertake the mission.

  • math_geek

    The only real indictment to my eyes is paragraph two “Questioned at the time about the news that one particularly notorious pedophile cleric had been given a “payoff” to leave the priesthood, Cardinal Dolan, then the archbishop, responded that such an inference was “false, preposterous and unjust.”” If Dolan was right to settle with the pervy priests, he should have been willing to assert that is what he did. Denying it and turning it into an attack from accusers is lying by any standard.

    • Marion (Mael Muire)

      The Cardinal probably would not have objected to the use of the word “settlement” in this instance.

      The word “payoff”, however, is loaded, typically understood to imply complicity with the miscreant payee, or at least to point to something underhanded or shady on the payor’s part.

      That being the case, I think the Cardinal was fair in characterizing the settlement with this miscreant as “a payoff” as “false, preposterous, and unjust.”

      • math_geek

        Man, if all “not lying” is being very careful about wording choices, that’s hardly a virtue at all. Especially as “payoff” also means buyout, which is exactly what this was. He’s possibly the most important American leader in the Catholic Church. We need to know that when he speaks, he can be trusted, and that is only possible if he takes a full and serious devotion to the truth that is not compromised by having to deal with a sometimes hostile media.

        • Marion (Mael Muire)

          Words have denotative meanings and connotative meanings. There’s no point in saying that in order to tell the truth, it’s necessary to agree to each and every term proposed by a hostile interlocutor, just because such terms are denotatively accurate, but but when they carry perjorative and inaccurate connotations.

          Look, answer the question truthfully, whether nine months before one’s birth, one’s father and mother engaged in marital relations, and thus one came to be? Versus to phrase it: nine months before one was born, one’s father – – – – ed one’s mother, and one popped out? Not many people would be willing to agree that one’s father (ahem, harumphed) one’s mother, in so many words, even though, the statement may be clinically accurate, broadly speaking.

          Connotation matters to the truth.

          • Shamrock

            If the Cardinal was in contention about the use of the word “pay-off” …why did he not state
            so? Leaving this “word-game” up to interpretation seems duplicitous on the face of things. It is always best to err on the side of good judgment and that involves integrity. A bishop in all matters must act and speak in as much as humanly possible acccurately and forthrightly. Not just give that appearance. I am afraid that Cardinal Dolan, however unwittingly, did not think this one through but acted defensively and in a certain sense dishonestly. Results? More distrust of the hierarchy by the laity who are living in confusion as our Church muddies the waters and clarifies little. This is not a defensible position. It looks like payoff no matter what the terms. Tobin did little to lift the veil so to speak on this nasty situation.

            • Marion (Mael Muire)

              “If the Cardinal was in contention about the use of the word “pay-off” …why did he not state so?”

              He did state so, by refusing to enter into the word game that the reporter proposed.

              Look, this question and answer session was not a legal hearing; the reporter was not an officer of the court, and the cardinal was under no obligation whatsoever to dance to whatever nasty little tune that the reporter was trying to pipe.

              The reporter knew perfectly well what he was trying to imply by using the word “payoff” instead of the correct “settlement”; the Cardinal knew he knew; and the reporter knew the Cardinal knew he knew. To enter into a nit-picking contest with an attorney over the word might have been the Cardinal’s obligation in a court hearing; it would indicated a lack of integrity and intelligence on the Cardinal’s part to do so with this reporter, for to do so would have demonstrated that the Cardinal was confused about the difference between a legal proceeding and a news interview. He was not confused, however; he responded exactly correctly.

  • bob

    It might be useful to know some (not all!) of the steps to defrock somebody. I can’t believe there isn’t a way to simply stop a cleric from serving, period, because a bishop thinks it’s an emergency. If they’re all single and therefore mighty portable, ordering him to a monastery seems at least reasonable? If he refuses, can him for that.

    • Mark Shea

      It turns out that priests are human beings with rights and all that crap. So the Church cannot just shovel them around like concrete or chuck them out like yesterday’s garbage. It would be much easier if the Church could be a police state (like America), but it turns out that when canon law is justly applied, it can cost rather a lot. Personally, I’d like to hear from Ed Peters on the estimated cost of a canonical process for booting a perv from the priesthood.

      • Its nice to have both sides of the issue laid out side-by-side in this discussion, specifically highlighting the dignity of both parties & their right to be given the benefits of the law. To that end, it seems counter-productive refer to priests who have abused others sexually solely as ‘pervs’. Though certainly accurate in describing their sin, labeling them by this alone seems to lend itself to a tribalism of us vs them – us being those who haven’t committed ‘those’ kinds of sins (‘those’ being a subjective bar) and them being those who have.

        The blog article Mark references in a later post by Terry Nelson ( made a point about him being in the same boat as us as sinners. The flip side is that there’s only one boat for sinners, one Barque of Peter. If we fall into the temptation of deciding which sinners get to stay in the boat (the goal of tribalism, it seems), we don’t just undermine the purpose of the Church, we run the risk of finding ourselves one day also arbitrarily excluded from the Church.

        • Mark Shea

          Sorry, Father, but I can’t get too worked up about this. You steal, you’re a crook. You beat somebody weaker than you up in anything other than self-defense, you’re a thug and a bully. You molest a kid, you’re a perv. Sure repentance is possible and I pray every sinner repents and is saved. But in ordinary every day parlance, it just clear English to denote the crime of which the criminal is guilty.

          • So once any of us has sinned, we’re forever known by our sin? I don’t think this is your intent, but isn’t this the implication?

            I know priests who are guilty of terrible things, maybe you and others here do too. This is why I am frustrated by what you’re calling clear English, because it doesn’t seem to leave any room for these men – who yes, are guilty – to ever be more than the sum of their sins. When do they get to move beyond being called names?

            • Mark Shea

              I don’t think calling somebody who stole a thief is “naming them for the rest of their lives”. I’m quite willing to say a sinner can repent. I’m simply using ordinary English to describe what was done.

            • kenneth

              They get to move beyond if and when there is justice and true accountability. If these priests, and the men who enabled them, had paid appropriately for their crimes, with prison time, AND shown some sign of true remorse and contrition, then we could talk about moving beyond and seeing them as something more. When they continually evade accountability and blame the victims and spin themselves as the aggrieved party, they don’t warrant any such consideration.

              • Mark Shea

                Prison time is up to us, the laypeople who own all the guns, run all the courts, and staff all the prisons. The Church’s job is to get rid of these guys from the priesthood as swiftly as possible once it is demonstrated that they are guilty. This Dolan did–and more cheaply than if there had been a long and costly canonical process. And now he is blamed for that. So: do you want them gone from the priesthood or not? Make up your mind.

                • kenneth

                  These were not, by and large, cases where the criminal justice system fell down on the job and left the bishops holding the bag with toxic priests. The only reason most of them were not imprisoned for decades is because the bishops themselves helped these men evade justice, often at a scale and using methods which themselves amounted to criminal racketeering. I suppose its true that by the time Dolan came around, he had few good options before him, and yes, getting such guys out of the priesthood faster is better. But what does that say about how the Church is run when it has to bribe predators to step aside? Not guys in some one-time highly ambiguous and unprovable situation. Guys who had decades of documentation as repeat offenders in many different locations with many different victims.

                  One of these characters cost the diocese $16 Million by his actions, to say nothing of the damage which cannot be measured in dollars. These offenders and the culture of leadership surrounding them have quite literally destroyed the Church as a credible moral voice in this society. Even with all that in his personnel file, the only realistic way to get him out is to give him a briefcase full of Franklins? If that’s true, then the inmates are running the asylum. If the Church is giving its worst criminals the power to dictate terms by having no viable process for involuntary defrocking, then it has far bigger problems than HHS….

                  • Mark Shea

                    I repeat. Do you have any evidence of wrongdoing by Dolan (I have no problem believing evidence of wrongdoing by Weakland, his predecessor)?

                    I repeat: Do you want these guys gone from the priesthood quickly or not?

              • Mark Shea

                How do you know they were “enabled”? It’s certainly possible, of course. But all we know from this story is that they were given the boot with inordinate speed. Likewise, how do you know Dolan blamed victims or evaded accountability?

                • kenneth

                  The only reason most of these men were free and in a position to threaten to game the Canon Law system to delay laicization is because prior bishops and brother priests helped hide them from the law. It is well proven that even into recent times, the Church had written policies and/or defacto practices of non-cooperation with law enforcement. Especially with repeat offenders, it’s clear that bishops themselves often considered the allegations credible, and yet actively aided and abetted these men by moving them around.

                  Even if Dolan himself was never part of that culture, its inaccurate to cast the whole thing as some unavoidable mess that the Church “found itself” with. It was a mess entirely of its own making. Maybe Dolan just did the best with what he had, but if this, or so many other actions related to the scandal, were truly believed to be honorable “best we can do” actions, why is it that there’s never any transparency about them close to the time they’re carried out? Why is it there’s never any willingness to own up to them until the truth “gets out” a decade later?

                  • Mark Shea

                    That why I didn’t cast it that way. But the hit piece was targeting Dolan. I take it from your studious avoidance of giving a straight answer to my questions and your eagerness in trying to change the subject and attack straw men that you admit my point. Thank you.

                    • kenneth

                      You seem to pose the question as if it were a binary one. Either Dolan committed “wrongdoing” of some egregious or criminal nature OR he “did nothing wrong” and so any criticism of his actions is a “hit piece.” So far as I know, Dolan’s actions did not involve any criminal wrongdoing in this matter. I would question whether the use of tax-free money to bribe predators to resign really falls within the scope of “charitable uses” of untaxed money, but I’m not the IRS.

                      At the same time, I don’t think it’s a “hit job” to criticize his actions. They may be defensible in light of everything going on at the time, but they also evidence a certain lack of courage and the “hush it up” mentality that allowed the scandal to flourish in the first place. At every step of the way since this blew up in the early 90s or whenever it was way back now, bishops have been saying “from now on, everything is in the open and above board. No more surprises.” And yet, almost every week or month to this day, another surprise leaks out. Surprises that would make Larry Flynt feel like he needs an extra shower.

                      It may well be that those digging up the secrets have an agenda, but they didn’t create these facts or the underlying circumstances. Nor did they secret them away for decades in ways that transformed them into viable weapons for the Church’s enemies. Finally, as I hope I had made clear, some of my criticism is not aimed at Dolan himself but the Church Canon process for defrocking itself. Has anything changed with that? Is it still essentially helpless to laicize even a monstrous priest if he doesn’t consent? Was Dolan’s payoff (and they were payoffs) of these men a one-time unavoidable disaster or will this be the template for all such cases going forward?

                    • Mark Shea

                      It’s windy in here.

                      Do you want pervert priests gone from the priesthood swiftly (and at less expense) or not? Yes or no.

                    • kenneth

                      If the problem of pervert priest is to be solved on the basis of expedience and dollar cost rather than true justice, then yes, Dolan’s approach is preferable to the alternative.

                    • Mark Shea

                      I see. When the complaint is that the Church is not laicizing priests fast enough and are continuing to pay for their upkeep and expenses, they they are “dragging their feet” and bleeding the laity white with a good ol boy system. When they *do* laicize them swiftly (and with less expense to the people in the pews who pay the tithes), they are only motivated by expedience and money and not by justice.

                      You could have just *said*, “Heads I win, tails Dolan loses”.

        • Midwestlady

          People who commit sex crimes are not mere sinners. They are also criminals of a very specific type. Sexual abuse is a crime. Let’s not be cute about this, and let’s not treat it as if it were a minor hiccup. It’s not. Sexual abuse ruins peoples’ lives.

          • If you’re expecting an argument, you won’t find one with me. My question is when do sinners of any gravity – without ever denying the gravity of their sin – get to move beyond their sin? My suggestion is that naming them by their sin doesn’t help.

            • kenneth

              Assuming by your handle that you’re a priest in real life, you know the answer to this question as well as anyone here. If we’re not talking about criminal liability but rather when people “move beyond” sin, it’s right there in your Sacrament of Reconciliation and the theology that underlies it. There’s some technical complexity in how a person’s soul is held to “move beyond their sin” through the sacrament, but you’ll agree that a key element in the whole business is contrition and remorse in some degree. There has to be a sincere acknowledgement of wrongdoing and a desire to stop doing it and make it right in some way. If someone came into your confessional and said “well, here’s what they say I did, but I don’t feel like I did anything wrong and you can stuff your penance,” you’d probably not administer the sacrament nor consider them to be “moving beyond” their sins. If these men who got “severance” are being defined and named by their sins, its because they have shown no remorse, no accountability and a seething contempt for the victims of their sins and crimes. If they had had any shred of true contrition or even any appreciation of the horrors they caused, they would not have needed $20,000 payoffs to do the right thing.

              • Mark Shea

                I think Padre’s point is that even the most impenitent sinner is not named by his sin: it does not constitute his identity. I appreciate his point and agree with it. I just don’t think that the common English parlance of saying a man is a thief or a pervert if he commits acts of theft or perversion is the same as saying his sin is identical with him. But he is perfectly right that the worst and most impenitent sinner is not who that person fundamentally is. Rather, Jesus is the deepest truth of every person. We can still reject that and face the consequences if we do. Hell is really possible. But that is not a call for us to make about another person. That’s father’s very sound point.

                • kenneth

                  God has his own way of viewing things I’m sure, but we primates use a tougher rubric in our relations and labeling of folks based upon actions. In the grand theological textbook reading of matters, yes, we can say that a man is more than the sum of his sin. Out on the street, however, he’s not much more than that if he persists in defining himself by that sin through unrepentant words and actions. that show no real interest in contrition or responsibility.

                  • Marion (Mael Muire)

                    By a miracle of grace, an individual who has preyed on vulnerable children and young people, thereby annihilating their victims’ earthly happiness and peace of mind, and concommitantly possibly their chances for eternal life as well, may not only repent, but be transformed from a destroyer of lives into a just man.

                    Sad experience has shown that such miracles of grace, while they do happen in these cases, take place with far less frequency than there are the number of souls who have been discovered to destroy young peoples’ lives in this way. . . for their own pleasure.

                    Like other predatory sociopaths (which is what these individuals are), these individuals are charming and convincing. The cannibal-murderer Jeffery Dahmer was described by neighbors and co-workers as “such a nice young man” and “it was impossible to believe such a thing of him.” They may be caught, punished, go through rehabilitation, gaining the confidence of clinicians and parole boards, be released into the community . . . and then proceed to go out and commit the exact same horrific crimes.

                    Men and women who have a history of preying sexually upon vulnerable children and young people, whether they enjoy unsupervised and access in seclusion by functioning as husbands and fathers, step-fathers, live-in lovers of the childrens’ mothers, scout leaders, public school teachers, coaches, social workers, Big Brother volunteers, friendly neighbors, Catholic priests, Protestant ministers, Jewish rabbis, or other religious leaders, must, for the sake of the childrens’ lives and futures, be assumed to be radioactive. That is, they can be forgiven by God and the community, and rehabilitated to a limited extent, but they can never again be trusted in positions, which in the usual and ordinary course of business, entail unsupervised access to vulnerable young people.

                    Just as it would be foolish to return a kleptomaniac, albeit one forgiven and rehabilited to a certain extent, to the position of security guard in a jewelry store, it is beyond foolhardy to return men with such a history to any position with access to children and young people. Such men should find placement in jobs in factories, in industry, in transportation and communications, in bookkeeping, accounting, in scientific and medical research, not in “people” professions. Never again.

                    • Marion (Mael Muire)

                      P. S. It is one thing to forgive. It is quite another to entrust to a position of the highest authority

                      The first pertains to the character of the community; that they obey the Master’s command to forgive. The second ought to pertain to the character of the one being entrusted. To forgive a man is not and should not be to state that he is a man of sterling character, if he has demonstrated that he is not. And yes, there are men of sterling character, and yes, they do commit sins, but not sins that rise to the level of destroying the innocent.

                • Thanks Mark. That sums up nicely what I was trying to get across.

      • Shamrock

        Mark….America is a “police state”??? Let’s pray not….how do you figure?

  • I guessed before I clicked the link which reporter wrote the piece. Without looking see if you can do it too. I’ll give you a hint – her initials are L.G.

  • Rob B.

    What? The NYT is being hypocritical?? Say it ain’t so, Mark! Say it ain’t so!

  • Oregon Catholic

    If one calls it severance pay it takes on a whole different light. It’s a common practice in business, no doubt at the NYT as well, to offer severance to encourage problematic employees to leave without a nasty and potentially litigious fight. As long as that was the purpose I don’t have a problem with it.

    If it was done in any way to keep the abuse quiet, or involved coercing a priest who claimed innocence with threats of a criminal/canonical trial if he didn’t go quietly then I would obviously strongly object. I don’t think the article gives enough information to make that determination.

  • Lisa

    I completely agree with you, except for calling them pervs. Let’s pray for the fallen prieats instead of labeling them. Their acts were perverted. They themselves are still in the image of God.

  • Lisa

    “So the Church cannot just shovel them around like concrete or chuck them out like yesterday’s garbage. ”

    Well, yes it can. A bishop may laicize a homo-priest at any time. They, who prey upon boys, ARE yesterday’s garbage and should be treated as such. We are a church, not some sort of counselling program. Why do we have such dreadfully low standards for our clergy?

    Show me ONE piece of evidence that supports the notion that anyone possessed by the gay demon has any chance of reforming. “If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off.” What the church really needs is a small guillotine, not appeasing lawyers.

    • Ted Seeber

      Lisa, are you suffering form a dissociation personality disorder? Your two posts are so contradictory it makes my brain hurt.

      • THE Lisa

        There are two Lisa’s, evidently. I am the real one, the angry one:) No I am not going Sybil.

    • Mark Shea

      Yes, but the problem is often that the process involves determining whether the accused is guilty. Hence the existence of canon law.

    • naturgesetz

      Lisa, you don’t know what you’re talking about. If a priest does not agree to be laicized, Canon 1425 of canon law provides that he can only be laicized by a three-judge ecclesiatical tribunal. And he can appeal the case to Rome. No bishop has the power on his own to laicize a priest who is unwilling to be laicized.

      • THE Lisa

        I stand corrected. Thank you for the clarification.
        However, my point remains that “the boot” was not used to its full potential.

  • Ted Seeber

    On the plus side for the victims- now you know the Perv has:
    1. proof from the archdiocese that he IS a perv
    2. $20,000 to grab for therapy.

    Given the fact that many of these men followed their vow of poverty more closely than they followed their vow of celibacy, and it is very hard to get money out of a man that has none, that’s a good thing.

  • Rob

    But I thought if you laicize priests, they are then free to roam around unsupervised. Disappointed with asserting that Dolan at time denied the idea of a payoff, or whatever it was. Sounds like a lie.

    • Mark Shea

      They are free to roam around unsupervised whether they are laicized or not. It’s a free country and the Church is not a police state.

      So: do you want the Church to get rid of pervert priests or not? Make up your mind.

  • James

    Of course I agree with you, Mark. However, I’m troubled that Cardinal Dolan showed a lack of integrity in misrepresenting things back in 2003, and I hope he publicly addresses this soon.

  • AT

    I’m going to give His Eminence the benefit of the doubt here, for two reasons. 1) There really isn’t a problem with giving a severance package to someone you want out of your organization, and if they take it, what’s the big deal? 2) There’s a huge difference between “payoff” and “severance package.” And since this was clearly a severance package, to cut loose an unwanted “employee” (pardon the term), his denial is understandable. Maybe not the preferred response in hindsight, but calling the accusation of a “payoff” unjust and untrue is actually quite accurate.

    The other issue is whether the rabidly anti-Catholic NYTimes can be trusted in this, and whether they are doing their best with grammar, syntax, and word-choice to accuse His Eminence of improprieties that did not happen.

    • kenneth

      Severance packages are given to to people who leave an organization in good standing ie “we had to cut the department 25% and regretfully your position was eliminated. They can also be a nice inducement to move out someone who is doing their job adequately, but maybe doesn’t mesh with new management. These cases are nothing of the sort. These are cases of on the job misconduct, felony criminal misconduct, so egregious that it drove the organization into bankruptcy and irreparably destroyed its credibility, it’s brand. No healthy organization pays off such people for such conduct, and there is no reasonable way to term it “severance.”

  • Joseph

    I am afraid we don’t have all the information to judge the good Cardinal’s leadership on this . But a more sad indicator is that this year in all of the archdiocese of new York there was only ONE person ordained. Perhaps instead of being a national leader, cardinal Dolan should worry about the number of seminarians he does not have

  • I don’t know. Something about this makes me think ‘golden parachute’, and that at a time when folks are no doubt itching to trip the Church up in its opposition to the HHS mandate.

  • Jayne

    When an employee is fired from a company, he still has a home. When a diocesan parish priest is laicized, he loses his job, his parish “family”, his home, and his career; in other words, everything. Supplying someone in this position with funds to start over is a charitable gesture, and as Catholics we hold charity to be our highest value. I’m sure that Cardinal Dolan acted with integrity. And Joseph, the reason only one priest was ordained this year is that one segment of the formation process was changed from 4 to 6 years; those who would have been ordained on the former schedule have 2 years to go. It’s a timing difference, not an alarm bell for vocations.

  • Joseph

    Thank you for the clarification, Jayne. But it surely is a sad thing to be discussing losing priests when so few seem to be entering. And here’s hoping we keep the new ones in our prayers

  • Mack

    On two occasions several years apart I was honored to sponsor two young public-school teachers as they made their professions of faith. They embraced the Catholic Faith despite the pile-on hostility from, of all people, Catholics. Welcome home, eh? The stereotyping of priests is not remedied by stereotyping other groups. And if the Keyboard Inquisition simply must have a default set of villains, perhaps they could switch around a bit: cab drivers this month, welders the next, and, perhaps, ‘bloggers in their turn.

    • Mark Shea

      Yes. Clearly the takeaway message is “All public school teachers are perverts.”


  • I

    Not. (it’s the NYT for crying out loud.)

  • So let’s grant all your points about the coverup, just for the sake of argument.

    Law enforcement in this society sucks sooo bad that it was regularly thwarted by 100 guys in dresses? Our college of bishops is way smarter than your entire law enforcement edifice?

    Brag about that if you want, but I’d be disturbed that all over this country, hundreds of diligent, but apparently moronic, DAs couldn’t get thru the lavender shroud to prosecute men they had firm cases against.

    Wait, those DAs don’t really exist. You weaved them from straw. Now it makes perfect sense, your nonchalance about your incompetent legal system.

    • kenneth

      You seem to take a positive delight in the fact that the bishops thwarted LE as long as they did. The “lavender curtain” was in fact every bit as sophisticated and determined in its methods as any organized criminal enterprise. The Church had essentially unlimited resources to move around offenders, unlimited resources for attorneys to help muscle victims into non-disclosure agreements.

      It also had some advantages no organized crime group has ever had: it’s own country. They have the ability to put witnesses, offenders and certainly documents beyond prosecutorial reach through “diplomatic immunity.” The Church also had the enormous advantage of many centuries of implicit trust in Western societies. Cops and DAs as often as not in this country were Catholic boys themselves and they were taught to believe that such crimes were unthinkable by a priest. It was entirely beyond the imagination that bishops could have been colluding to hide thousands of cases over decades of time.

      Finally, the Church had a system for silencing victims which was, in some ways, vastly more effective than the simple murder used by common mafias. They attacked their victim’s sense of manhood in such a primal and vile way that they would not be able to admit it to anyone for decades, let alone withstand the rigors of public testimony. That’s a sick yet technically brilliant use of psy-ops warfare. They conditioned their own victims to be the staunchest defenders of the secret itself. They fixed it so that the victim – usually straight insecure young men coming of age in very homophobic times – had a choice. He could try to forget what happened OR level an accusation which was tantamount to admitting to the world that he was no longer a man, but a punk sissy.

      So they didn’t get away with it because our cops and prosecutors were soft or inept. They got away with it because they were very clever and highly organized criminals, and because they took wild advantage of the almost blind good will we had extended to them for centuries.

  • Ron Jon

    Well. Allen Ginsberg was a member of NAMBLA, but nobody at the NYT is saying anything bad about paedophile liberal Jewish gay poets.

    • kenneth

      Our society never blindly entrusted generations of young men to the care of liberal gay Jewish poets, and the Church never assisted them in furthering crimes against children or systematic cover-ups of such crimes.

      • Ron Jon

        NEVER? Haha. They are parents, gays want to adopt, to get married. Just shut up and go back to the National Catholic Reporter.

  • Shamrock

    Mark…I doubt any of your readers would NOT want to get rid of perv priests as you call them…but there is surely room to object to the payoff method of resolution.I think the more cogent point of the NYT’s piece was the not-so-subtle way they “entrapped ” the Good Cardinal of the Archdioceseof New York into “fibbing” about the “pay-off”, “severerance”, whatever you call it He appeared to be prevaricating..and that puts all once more in the awkward position of defend ing the indefensible actions on the part of many of our hierarchy involved in massive coverup over decades of priestly corruption.
    Not to worry! This will all be heading for the back-burner soon…as the next big church scandal erupts. I am referring to the financial scandal brewing and about to explode over in Rome!
    I grant that a laicized/defrocked priest is going to have a tough time making it in the secular world but
    giving him a $20,000 start up fund does seem a bit of a slap in the face to the victim and his family.
    Surely a way to “set him loose” that is fair and equitable to all should not have the appearance or the
    substance of a reward. Those who repent their sinfulness and choose to can remain cloistered in prayer.
    For those who remain unrepentent and guilty of many years of serial rape let the full weight of the law come to bear and determine their future.

    • Mark Shea

      I have no problem with the full weight of the law being applied. However, the Church cannot arrest, try, or jail anybody. That’s up to us laypeople. The bishop’s job was to get the miscreant out of the priesthood ASAP. This he did, and at less cost to us lay tithepayers. So: do we want the priest gone or do we want vengeance? Make up your mind.

  • Shamrock

    Not a matter of my mind being made up one way or the other….It is however a grave matter for the Church to deal openly especially with the press and not give fodder for doubt and distrust by lying to the press. They must get rid of the perv-priests PRONTO! and if canon law does does not allow for swift justice it must be amended.
    “Vengence is mine” says the Lord. Your view that we have to choose between making a payoff
    or anything else is vengence is too simplistic and narrow. Also it is not realistic to expect people to see this
    ” severence pay” as any kind of justice . Nor is it fair to say if one is against it that one is being vengeful as
    if no other options could be created.