Monday, July 16, 2007

LOS ANGELES (AP) - July 15, 2007 - The nation's largest Catholic archdiocese has settled its abuse cases for $660 million, by far the largest payout in the church's sexual abuse scandal, The Associated Press has learned.

The Catholic church has a problem. In my opinion it has a very large problem. A problem that has existed for years and, for those many years and more, has been continuously swept under the carpet, purposely.

There isn't one Pope, one Cardinal, in my opinion, who isn't aware of the problem or its extent.

Because if there is one thing that Popes and Cardinals and those in power in the Catholic church are NOT, is stupid.

They are, however, in my opinion, human. Meaning that they are frail and desperate and cloaking and plotting.

I find that those adults who take advantage of children are completely contemptuous on their face; those who take advantage of children from official positions of power to include Authority Figures -- such as PRIESTS, childrens' group leaders, government officials, etc., are even MORE reprehensible and contemptuous.

The settlement is the largest ever by a Roman Catholic diocese since the clergy sexual abuse scandal erupted in Boston in 2002. The largest payout so far has been by the Diocese of Orange, Calif., in 2004, for $100 million.

Facing a flood of abuse claims, five dioceses - Tucson, Ariz.; Spokane, Wash.; Portland, Ore.; Davenport, Iowa, and San Diego - sought bankruptcy protection.

The tendency of the Catholic Church to minimize these problems, avoid these problems, claim they never existed, sweep them under the proverbial carpet, "move" their "problem people," is clear, overt, documented, purposeful and despicable.

Cardinal Roger Mahony recently told parishioners in an open letter that the archdiocese was selling its high-rise administrative building and considering the sale of about 50 other nonessential church properties to raise funds for a settlement.

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge overseeing the cases recently ruled that Mahony could be called to testify in the second trial on schedule, and attorneys for plaintiffs wanted to call him in many more.

The same judge also cleared the way for four people to seek punitive damages - something that could have opened the church to tens of millions of dollars in payouts if the ruling had been expanded to other cases.

I'll be the first to openly admit: I am a Christian. I believe in God. I am not, however, a Catholic though I was surrounded, in college, by six close friends whom I called The Catholic Mafia. I was very familiar with the beliefs of Catholics, with the general Catechism of the Catholic Church -- because all my friends were Catholic.

Victims accuse Mahony of allegedly covering up evidence of 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?" Manly said. "They will continue their lives as normal; the victims still have to deal with a lifetime of problems."

Manly questioned why Mahony had not been held to account.

"If what transpired under his leadership was bad enough to pay a half billion dollars, why is he still walking free, and why hasn't the district attorney taken action against him?" Manly said.

The abuse cases also highlighted a failing of the justice authorities, Manly added.

"I hope this causes the power structure -- Los Angeles law enforcement, the courts, the people in power -- to look at what happened and ask how, in the midst of all this stuff for 50 years, only three priests were convicted," he said.

"By any standard that tells you law enforcement was turning a blind eye to this."

In that precise vein, whilst a Child Abuse investigator, I had the Catholic Church purposely move and hide a priest that was a potential suspect in one of my cases. I was told in no uncertain terms by my then-supervisor that that was a perfect time to close that case as a "pend."

Some of the victims have waited more than five decades for a chance at reconciliation and resolution," said Raymond Boucher, the main lawyer for the plaintiffs. "This is a down payment on that debt long overdue."

So therefore, I can tell you with complete certainty that, in my opinion, the Catholic church has historically been avoiding dealing with the issue and is just now beginning to, literally, pay the price for its tacit condonation of certain heinous sexual abuse events.
Steve Sanchez, abuse victim: "Cardinal Mahoney got off cheap today."

It is bad enough, ladies and gentlemen, that we must endure the focus of certain demented segments of our society on our children; it is even worse when we discover some of these horrors are perpetrated by not only those in positions of governmental authority, but those in spiritual authority.

In my opinion, there is a very special place in Hell reserved for these persons.

I'm sorry; I find no sympathy whatsoever in my heart for the Catholic church; they reap now what they have managed to sow for so many years. And because, after all, we all know what is right and what is wrong.

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