Sunday, March 9, 2008

I'm waiting for the encyclical titled: We're horrified, we're sorry, we were wrong, and we're closing the entire operation down

I soured on the Catholic Church a long, long time ago. I officially stopped going to church immediately after I stopped being an altar boy (for 5 years). My pastor told me I had to kiss the archbishop's ring when he visited our church for a confirmation ceremony. I refused, arguing that the archbishop was, in fact, no better than I, and I wasn't given to kissing rings. That was it. I quit being an altar boy, and for all practical, and spiritual purposes, being a Catholic. Of course, that was not the beginning of my distaste, nor the end.

I had attended Catholic school since first grade, and I knew, from first hand experience, that in the Catholic parish I belonged to, they allowed pathetic, unqualified, wounded, damaged, sociopathic, sadistic nuns to "instruct" the students. I witnessed my share of psychological and physical terror. I was smart enough to avoid most of it myself, but still know family and friends who carry the wounds. I'm always happy to see one of those nun's names in the obituary column.

Of course, the whole scandal of priests sexually abusing children in their care was, and is shocking and sickening, but sadly, not surprising. And it's less surprising as the years pass. What's most surprising is the fact that a church built on the philosophy of Jesus, has never really been able to admit the problem, or deal with it in a way that's any deeper than their considerably deep pocket book.

So, when I read in the Hartford Courant today that the Connecticut Catholic Church had reached a record in payouts to abuse victims, I was amazed that the Church still has the resources to say to victims: "Here's your check, now shut your mouth."

According to statistics provided by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, $526 million was paid last year to victims of abuse. But while nearly $8 million was paid for therapy to victims, just over $15 million was paid to "support" the offenders. $60 million was paid in legal fees. But $6 million was made in payments in a catchall column titled "other costs."

The Catholic Church has paid $6 million this year, and nearly $20 million in the past four years for "other costs."

If I was dropping my twenty every week in the donation basket, I sure would like to know what those "other costs," are.

Meanwhile, the Pope lectures the faithful on birth control and the sanctity of life. I'm waiting for the Vatican to give up Cardinal Law (oh, the ironies in that name), and to make a sincere act of contrition to the world for having perpetuated serialized abuse of children for decades.

Hell, they apologized for the Inquisition just a few years ago. I guess we'll have to wait a couple of centuries until this one cools down.

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