10 June 2005

Pedophile Priest Payouts Pass $1 Billion

The the Roman Catholic Diocese of Covington, Ky last week created a $120 million fund to compensate victims of priestly sex abuse. With that settlement, payouts to sex victims of Roman Catholic priests over the past three years alone passed the billion-dollar mark.

No other religious institution ever has spent so much money to indemnify such widespread debauchery perpetrated by so many of its own officials. Yet this is the one major church in Christendom that has explicitly declared herself "irreformable."

Think about it.

Start with the pretense of papal infallibility; forbid everyone in the core hierarchy of the church to marry; embrace a notion of "spirituality" with the most superstitious form of sacramental externalism at its core; and demand that all your members blindly and reverently accept the authority of the church's earthly leaders no matter what—and what kind of result would you expect?

So why is it that so many Protestants have chosen this moment in history to seek ecumenical relationships with Rome?

Kyrie eleison.


Rand said...

You almost make it sound like Romanism is a false religion or something... (sarcasm here)


(I was beginning to feel lonely, other than my friend Pete, I was hard pressed to find anyone in the blogosphere who would actively preach against Romanism)

Take care,


Rand said...

Oh! I don't know if you allow links...

If you don't just delete, I won't take any offense.


Renee said...

I saw this yesterday and you are one of the first blogs to post about it (Chrisitan blogs).

It's amazing how so many just turn a blind eye and pretend this did not occur (but then I guess it is not so amazing since we are in the twilight zone of "the LUV everything do not offend" church).

John Haller said...

As usual, a great point Phil.

My concern is that we in the evangelical church may face a similar problem if we do not address some of our own issues.

Jeremy Weaver said...

I agree. If evangelicalism does not return to a biblical form of gvoernment (read elder-ruled congregations) under the headship of Jesus Christ we are in for trouble.

blepein said...

Phil, the evangelical silence on this issue fits with spirit of this age. "Doctrine is secondary, let us unite together for the culture war against secularism". But what ever happened to the truth of the Gospel?

Fred Butler said...

On top of the wonderful insights Phil provides with his comments, he uses cool words like "indemnify." I never cease learning. I plan to use it in my next sermon.

Fred's Bible Talk

Matthew Self said...

Am I the only one stunned at the amount of money one diocese in Kentucky was able to gather? Was this money just sitting around in church coffers? When I hear stuff like this, it makes me wonder how much more money given to God is just sitting around, waiting to be dumped into defense funds and legal buyouts. Seeing this number and thinking about the abject poverty in the "hollars" of Kentucky ... I'm staggered.

Phil Johnson said...

Gaddabout: You make a point that needs to be stressed. This $1 billion is money collected from people who believed they were giving to support the work of God.

Do you realize how much $1 billion is?

Michael Jackson's prodigious pedophile habit cost him hush money totalling a preposterous amount: some 22.5 million over ten years' time.

The Vatican has emptied its coffers of 45 times that much in three years! The Roman Catholic priesthood is by any measure a system that is seriously corrupt to its very core.

What is utterly shocking is that most people seem so reluctant to say so plainly.

Efrayim said...

When a person or organization, religious or otherwise, separates from the Torah of the Almighty the results are quite predictable. That statement, by the way, is made from a combination of observation and personal experience. How else would we know anything?!
From the wonderful move of His Spirit in the late 60's, early 70's to the quiet revival now taking place in the hearts of the remnant, I truly believe that there is not much time left before the restoration of His kingdom and the removal of all the rest.



John Haller said...

I'm a lawyer and just for one small clarification: not all of the money comes from the church coffers. Some of it comes from insurance.

Nevertheless, it is a stunning amount and you can rest assured that evangelical churches will pay more for liability insurance because of settlement such as these.

At least two dioceses are in bankruptcy. More will probably follow. I would expect the amount of settlements to double in the next few years from today's total.

It would be interesting to see how much some large denominations spend on missions for comparison. I would guess that some large denoms have not spent $1 billion in the last 20 years on missions.

In a pinch the RC can sell some of those paintings or statues in the Vatican.

Pedantic Protestant said...

Along with these comments, I can at the same time sympathize with the RC priests and parishes that are victimized by people out to make a quick buck as well with bogus claims of molestation. I feel badly for the laity who donate their money to the RCC or to their parish and end up seeing their money go towards restitution of the victims of a clerical class run amok. Finally, I'd feel badly for the priests who are falsely accused. There is no symmetry involved in accusations like these. Even if Father X is cleared of any charges, just the fact that an accusation is made against him will cause people consternation, which isn't fair to Father X if he's really innocent.

As for selling the treasures of the Vatican, I'm not sure that would be an easy deal. Buyers would have to exist first!


John Haller said...

Hard to sell the stuff in the Vatican? I don't think so. Just yesterday some idiot paid $996,000 for the original contract under which Babe Ruth was sold by the Red Sox to the Yankees. I think someone might be willing to drop several million for a Michaelangelo original.

Phil, sounds like you've made up your mind about the freak show going on up in Santa Maria... I'm sure there's an illustration in there someplace.

Joel said...

There is a connnection, John. Had the Gloved One been a priest, they wouldn't have bothered with a trial.

Phil, I expected better of you than to say:
"The Vatican has emptied its coffers of 45 times that much in three years! The Roman Catholic priesthood is by any measure a system that is seriously corrupt to its very core."

The Catholic priesthood is made up of millions of deeply devoted men and a few perverts. Your comment is on the level of calling Protestantism corrupt to the core because it includes people like Benny Hinn. The same system that produced the fondling fathers also produced men like Fr. Damian. We're all sinners here.

If you'll forgive me for sticking in plug, I would like to offer a different view at my blog.

Gunslinger said...

Ahhh, so I suppose the Protestant world is immune to such evil from it's pastors, correct? Even though by nearly any statistical measure the percentage of clergy who do such heinous things is roughly the same across all religions from. So if it's pretty much the same across the board, how can one argue that it's somehow the very structure of the Church (which Phil's comments indicate he knows next to nothing about) that causes it?

As to the dollar amounts, it's only because the Catholic Church is such a large organization that you can even gather such information. With over a billion Catholics worldwide, you'd expect the incidence of EVERYTHING to be significantly higher if valued only in raw numbers. With nearly 60 million Catholics in the U.S., the $1 billion works out to about $16 per person. Hmmm, kinda puts it in perspective. In addition as someone has already stated, alot of this money comes from insurance and not church coffers.

Are there smaller Protestant congregations that have been similarly hit by such scandal in terms of percentages? I think it's safe to say that there are a few. This pretty much demolishes the point being made.

Oh, but I forgot, any stick is good enough for beating the Catholci Church with.

Devin Rose said...

There used to be another group of seriously corrupt men, supposedly holy and close to God, and the percentage of them that were quite evil was close to 10%! And the others, while not as evil as the 10%, did a lot of very un-Christian things, like denying Christ (hello, Matthew 10:32,33?).

That group were called the 12 Apostles, and they included Judas Iscariot, whom Jesus personally spent years of his life with and loved with all his heart.

It is right to condemn as evil the abuse of children by those priests, but it is erroneous to then condemn the entire Church based off of this. Clearly, you think the Catholic Church believes in false teachings. I used to think this too, when I was an Evangelical probably not too different in belief from yourself. Now I'm a Catholic, and I will only caution you to be careful about what you say against the Catholic Church, as one day you may regret it when you find yourself entering it. :)

Bill said...

It appears that many on this blog are quick to offer opinions that are fraught with errors and ingnorance. First, the vast amount of the monies paid to LAWYERS does not come from the average catholic's donations. It comes primarily from insurance. When there is not sufficient insurance the sale of property will then be made. The personwho things that the Vatican is paying for this is way of base. It pays for nothing. The budget for operating the Vatican, which is a legitimate state is about $21 million dollars, which pays for all the help, heating, cleaning, etc. I have no problem with people criticizing the church or anything for that matter. Howver, I do thing that those who do so must do so from FACTS and not biases, prejudice, and other ill-conceived forms of hate.

Habitans in Sicco said...

What is embarrassingly inept are the lame defenses that have been offered for the Catholic church in this thread.

Insurance companies may have written most of the payola checks, but where do you think the insurance money ultimately comes from? Who pays the increased insurance rates? Are you people seriously arguing that a billion dollars in hush money has nothing to do with the donations of people who think they have given to support the cause of Christ?

By the way, anyone who thinks the Roman Catholic church is being condemned because of the actions of a few rogue priests has not been reading the news. The problem is a massive hierarchichal system that has systematically, deliberately, and with full knowledge protected these miscreants, moved them from place to place, and paid hush money to cover their crimes until public pressure finally brought this scandal to the forefront. The spin-meisters who think they can now rescue Rome's reputation by pointing to instances of child abuse in non-Catholic religions are villains of the highest order.

No, there is no parallel in the Protestant world, or in any other religion. Any Protestant denomination wracked with this level of scandal would never be able to survive the public outrage. Rome has literally been doing it for centuries and has become quite skilled at it.

Jeff Tan said...

Habitans, do you actually believe everything the news tells you? Have you noticed that the mainstream news has never noted that the actual number of abusive priests in the Catholic Church in the U.S. comes up to about 4% (ref: http://www.americancatholic.org/news/clergysexabuse/johnjaycns.asp)? And 4% says that the whole system is corrupt? If the same standard was applied to any organization, e.g., governments, the public school system, which of them would make it?

No sane Catholic condones the abuses, nor the administrative ignorance/complicity that failed to shut those derelicts down from the very beginning. Yes, the administrative system of the Catholic Church will require intense study (which is still on-going) and major changes. No one denies that. Your post gives me the impression that what you want goes beyond improving the Catholic Church.

Furthermore, when you say that there is no parallel of the Catholic clergy abuse scandals in the Protestant churches, then you are correct. After all, no other Christian group receives the same levels of vitriol in the mainstream headlines and editorials as the Catholic Church. Regardless of the similar figures as far as the percentage of abusive clergy is concerned, the Catholic Church is always the biggest and favorite target. I would invite you to do some research on those figures yourself, and come up with conclusions after some fair, prayerful and deliberate considerations. In case you have time for it, look up Dr. Philip Jenkins' "The New Anti-Catholicism: The Last Acceptable Prejudice" (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0195154800/ref=pd_sxp_f/002-2508358-2276032?v=glance&s=books).

Recall the Lord's words about being unclean, that it comes from the heart and is not something that is external to any of us. Look closer at your own words: "The problem is a massive hierarchichal system that has systematically, deliberately, and with full knowledge protected these miscreants, moved them from place to place, and paid hush money to cover their crimes until public pressure finally brought this scandal to the forefront." I would point out that the system does not possess knowledge, intent and cannot in itself move people from place to place and pay money. You will never find any such system documented in a manual to guide Church administrators in carrying out such evil deeds. It isn't in the catechism, nor in any encyclical, nor in canon law. Such horrible acts of complicity can only come from the human heart, and can only be carried out by human will and actions.

Jeff Tan said...

By the way, the Church does not declare each and every priest, bishop, archbishop or even the pope impeccable. Papal infallibility only affects universal doctrines on faith and morals. Papal infallibility is not a function of the pope: we know that the pope remains a human being with the same sinful nature that we all have. Trusting in papal infallibility (the actual doctrine, not misunderstandings of it) means trusting the Holy Spirit, by whose assistance alone is papal infallibility possible. This is the same level of trust that we have for the infallible Scriptures. As we accept that the books and epistles of the Bible were written by human beings with sinful natures, we trust in the Holy Spirit to lead us to all truth.

The sex abuses of Catholic clergy and administrative abuses to their benefit are horrible betrayals, but this has nothing to do with papal infallibility. None of the popes have ever penned dogma that remotely tolerates sex abuses nor conspiracies to protect abusive clergy.

Joel said...

It's also important to remember that the USCCB met in 1991 and hammered out policies to protecct kids and keep that sort of priest-shuffle from happening. The overwhelming majority of the lawsuits date from before the policies were implemented. In fact, I think I've only seen one or two from after 1991.