Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Great Falls-Billings Diocese files for bankruptcy to settle clerical abuse claims

This week, the Great Falls-Billings Diocese filed for bankruptcy to settle sex abuse claims against diocesan priests. Great Falls-Billings is fifteenth Catholic diocese to take this step and the second diocese in Montana to do so.

According to an attorney for some of the plaintiffs, the diocese will try to hold on to some of its real estate and cash, arguing that these assets are held in trust for local parishes and are not actually owned by the diocese. Good luck with that.

A spokesperson for the diocese, who will take charge of negotiations with some of the abuse victims, put the best face on this disaster. "Reaction of pastors and the laity has been largely a kind of 'What can we do to help?'" he said. "There is a feeling of we are in this together from our smallest parishes to our biggest ones."

But of course we are not all in this together. For nearly half a century, laypeople faithfully went to Mass, made their weekly cash donations, and listened to their priests and bishops. And all the while, Catholic priests were raping little boys while the Catholic hierarchy covered it up and someone washed the sheets that were stained with blood and semen.

As a Catholic convert who has loved the Church for over 20 years, I am beginning to feel like one of Hitler's camp followers who were huddled in the bunker with the Fuhrer as the Russian army crept closer, block by block. "How in the hell did we get in this mess?", those people must have asked themselves.

Christ can heal the suffering, we are told. No wound is so ugly that it cannot be salved by the Savior's blood. But we know for sure that child abuse victims never recover. They never recover. They never recover.

And so, returning to my bunker analogy, I ask myself: Is it is time for me to slip away through the rubble, leaving the fools who created this mess to their fate? I've stopped contributing to the Catholic Church altogether, sending my financial donations to a homeless shelter in Houston.

I would feel much better if the Catholic Church paid a real penance for all this suffering--if just one of the son of a bitches who covered up child rape was put in the slammer. But that has not happened and it will not happen.

Monsignor Richard Mouton


Dan Morris Young. Great Falls-Billings Diocese becomes 15th to file for bankruptcy. Catholic Reporter, April 3, 2017.

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