A major court decision in Vermont slammed the Catholic church there.
A Burlington jury issued a landmark verdict against the state’s Roman Catholic diocese Tuesday, ordering it to pay $8.7 million in damages to a former Burlington altar boy fondled multiple times by a priest the church knew was a child molester.
It’s a harsh penalty, but warranted by the way the church turned a blind eye to outrageously criminal behavior. I’d like to say that they’ll learn a lesson from it, but the comments from Catholic officials suggest that no, they won’t.
A grim Bishop Salvatore Matano, who attended the six-day trial, said in a brief, separate interview that the size of the verdict could pose serious problems for the diocese. He called the looming predicament a “sad and tragic moment in our history.”
Wrong! The sad and tragic moment occurred in 1972, when they hired the child molesting priest while fully knowledgeable about his prior history. The legal damages aren’t the problem, it’s what these people did to children.
“I have to look very seriously at what this verdict means as it impacts on our services and the activities of the diocese,” Matano said. “I have to be very conscious that the verdict as it stands will have a very serious impact on a rural diocese; a small, rural diocese.”
The diocese? What about the people? Where was your concern for the diocese when the church set a child predator loose upon them?
“I do not want in any way to inflict any suffering or any pain upon the faithful in this diocese because of what happened in the past,” Matano said. “That is certainly not appropriate, and I am conscious of the universal needs of the diocese.”
Oh, well then…it all happened in the past. No worries about the now, then. I’m sure there aren’t any child abusing priests any more, and the victim in this case…why, surely, he’s over it now.
Diocesan lawyer Tom McCormick said he was taken aback by the jury’s decision and would likely appeal.
“Clearly, in hindsight we should have, could have looked at things differently,” McCormick said. “We expected that a Vermont jury would not unleash a number of this sort for behavior that took place 35 years ago.”
These evil clowns in their funny suits are clearly out of touch. When you’ve defined yourself as a moral authority (often, the sole moral authority) you don’t get to back away from the consequences of your actions because time has passed or because the consequences are severe. Perhaps they ought to look at this expression of tangible outrage by a community as a not-so-subtle signal that they have not and are not supporting the actual behaviors that community considers important, and regards as part of the church’s trust.
Personally, I think bankrupting the gilded monstrosity of Catholicism is an eminently desirable goal in itself.