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Feb 14 2014

So that’s where the money on the collection plate goes!

Finally, the Catholic diocese of Minneapolis/St Paul has opened their books. If you’re interested in the grisly accounting details, read the whole thing. The part that caught my attention…

The report said the archdiocese spent $8.8 million over the past decade on costs related to clergy misconduct. That does not include settlements and other payments made by the archdiocese’s insurance company, the report said.

The archdiocese spent more than $6.2 million on cases involving misconduct with minors, assisting the victim and abuser, the report said. That includes $2.3 million for legal settlements, $1.8 million for victim support such as counseling and therapy, and $566,000 in legal fees.

Note that it doesn’t cover what their insurance company paid out. I wonder if their company thinks Catholicism was a good risk?

We also learn that the church has operating expenses of over $39 million and income of over $35 million. Using the potent math skills I acquired in first grade, I think that means they’re going in the hole by about $4 million every year…but somehow the church financial officer says, the financial condition of the archdiocese is solid, which unfortunately exceeds my mathematical ability to compute.

It looks a little less solid when you also consider the 20 child sex abuse lawsuits against the church filed just this year.

I shall eagerly await their well-deserved bankruptcy. I might be waiting a long time, though — somehow these organizations always seem to persist on the unfailing gullibility of their clientele, which is beginning to look like an infinite resource.

23 comments

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  1. 1
    Trebuchet

    Let’s see: “$6.2 million on cases involving misconduct with minors, assisting the victim and abuser…” and “$2.3 million for legal settlements, $1.8 million for victim support such as counseling and therapy, and $566,000 in legal fees.”

    $6.2M – ($2.3M + $1.8M +$.566M) = $1.534 for “assisting the … abuser”. Isn’t that just nice. It would have cost much less just to report them to the authorities and let them get sent to prison, where they belong.

  2. 2
    Trebuchet

    That’s $1.534M for the abusers of course. My keyboard is omitting letters today and I didn’t catch them all. Although even a buck-fifty-three would have been too much.

  3. 3
    unclefrogy

    creative accounting
    incompetent management
    uncorroborated income statements
    tax free status

    uncle frogy

  4. 4
    Menyambal

    There are cheaper ways to pay for sex. Illegal ways, even, since they seem to need that frisson. Or a nice wedding can be expensive, if spending money is what gets them off. Or a cheap wedding—if you know a priest—and a wife with a job, that might actually bring in some cash. Ooo, become a pimp!

  5. 5
    frog

    They’re financially solid because the RCC has other money to kick in. I expect money is funneling to M/StP from dioceses where the cover-up has been more successful.

    I wonder if their insurer has dropped them from coverage. I certainly hope so.

  6. 6
    David Wilford

    The archdiocese is putting millions into an account in anticipation of paying out damages, according to this from Minnesota Public Radio:

    The archdiocese has been adding money to a reserve fund dedicated to litigation claims. The reserve grew eight-fold, from $650,000 in June of 2012 to $5.3 million a year later.

    Larry Kallio, an accounting professor at the University of Minnesota’s Carlson School of Management, said it is standard accounting practice to start setting that money aside. But he said it also signals that the archdiocese expects to pay at least that much in litigation costs.

    “What they’re saying potentially is that there are more losses coming but they can’t reasonably estimate them at this point,” Kallio said. “They’re fairly comfortable that at least this much is going to get lost but there could be more. We simply don’t know at this point.”

    http://www.mprnews.org/story/2014/02/13/news/archdiocese-financial-report

  7. 7
    David Marjanović

    It looks a little less solid when you also consider the 20 child sex abuse lawsuits against the church filed just this year.

    This year? 2014? Or do you mean in the last twelve months? And do you mean just in the US, or worldwide?

  8. 8
    David Wilford

    I should have included this in my previous post, which is a link to MPR’s in-depth reporting on this ongoing scandal:

    http://minnesota.publicradio.org/collections/catholic-church/

    A great resource for learning about the sordid history of this coverup.

  9. 9
    Olav

    Offtopic nitpick:

    Note that it doesn’t cover what their insurance company paid out. I wonder if their company thinks Catholicism was a good risk?

    Any organisation as large as the Roman Catholic Church (but also governments and such) would be foolish to ever pay for commercial insurance. They should have enough in their coffers to assume any risk themselves without enriching the insurance vultures.

    Unless someone has been corrupt and found a way to siphon off money though insurance of course.

    I agree that the Church must die and that bankruptcy would be an excellent way to achieve that. Unfortunately it does not seem likely to happen.

  10. 10
    Tethys

    This year? 2014? Or do you mean in the last twelve months? And do you mean just in the US, or worldwide?

    Yes, this year so far there have been 20 suits filed, and many, many more are in the works.

    Still unknown was the archdiocese’s ability to respond to the roughly 20 lawsuits filed so far this year on behalf of child sex abuse victims. The $8.8 million it spent on costs related to clergy misconduct over the past decade could pale compared with future costs. That spending occurred during a decade when lawsuits against the archdiocese were blocked by a statute of limitations on older claims. That limitation has now been lifted for three years, and new lawsuits are filed every couple weeks.

    I am cautiously optimistic that justice will finally be served. Gilbert Gustufson is the rapist priest who abused many of my friends and schoolmates, and I want him to spend his last years in a jail cell.

    I am still angry 30 years later at the way we were treated for reporting him, and my friend killed himself in 1995. I think I will track down a few more of his victims and get them to file lawsuits too.

  11. 11
    Nick Gotts

    but somehow the church financial officer says, “the financial condition of the archdiocese is solid,” – PZM

    They’ll just send the boys round to see some of the wealthier parishoners:

    Nice little soul you got here… it would be such a pity if it got accidentally excommunicated… Oh! Father John, you’re so careless! Look what you’ve done to the gentleman’s state of grace!

  12. 12
    Jim Martin

    If we could harness faith and turn it into motion, this would be a perpetual motion machine powered solely on gullibility. We could end the reliance on foreign oil!

  13. 13
    brucegorton

    So about a quarter of their expenses goes on clergy misconduct – and most of that involves minors.

  14. 14
    Larry

    So how much are they spending to ferry priests around to safe houses and other out-of-state parishes to protect them from being arrested for diddling the altar boys?

  15. 15
    davidgentile

    I wonder why La Cosa Nostra, who are likely Catholic to a man, don’t seem to be as teflon-y as the Vatican.

  16. 16
    muskiet

    What got me was:

    and

  17. 17
    muskiet

    Sigh… HTML tags…

    Heck I don’t need them!

    “Priests who committed the abuse received another $1.5 million during this period for their living expenses, the report said.”

    “The biggest share — $1.7 million — paid for the living expenses of the problem priests. Another $519,000 was used for victim support services, the audit said, and $209,000 for legal services. The archdiocese said it is required under church law to care for priests who have been removed from the ministry.”

  18. 18
    carlie

    The archdiocese said it is required under church law to care for priests who have been removed from the ministry.”

    So anyone can become a priest, commit some act of heresy like speaking out for women having leadership roles, be removed from duty by the Vatican, and get their living costs paid for for the rest of their life? Sweet deal!

  19. 19
    carlie

    Oh shit, that explains why they keep priests in ministry despite criminal and other bad activity – better to pay for them doing something than pay for them to sit in retirement AND pay someone else to cover their parish.

  20. 20
    David Marjanović

    *peeks at source code*

    Oh. Forget the “cite” part, it doesn’t even work, and it’s not where the quote is supposed to go. The quote goes between an opening <blockquote> tag and a closing </blockquote> tag:

    <blockquote>this</blockquote>

    automatically turns into

    this

    (…and I had to use an HTML trick to prevent that from happening in my examples).

  21. 21
    nutella

    The financial condition of the archdiocese is solid because what they have disclosed here is not all of the business of the diocese. What all the Catholic dioceses do is develop many, many allegedly independent corporations to hold all the assets of the diocese so they only have to expose one or two at a time. All of the corporations are controlled 100% by the current bishop but they pretend they’re independent and separate. Has MPR looked closely to see, for example, whether all the real estate that belongs to the diocese is included in this disclosure? Usually the diocese (that is, the bishop) owns and controls not just the diocesan property but all the property in all the parishes, too.

  22. 22
    seranvali

    I wonder what would happen if their insurers grew a spine and refused to insure them.

  23. 23
    danielwatkins

    Math nitpicking: $8.8/decade=$o.88/year.

    So, the $4M after operating expenses becomes $3.1M slice of the pie to spend on “good works”. Or, do the settlements count towards their acts of charity?

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