Monday, August 29, 2005

Hardball?

Bill Donohue's hopping mad... again. In a release this afternoon, he went on a tear:
"The sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church is no longer about the alleged victims—they have had their day in court—it is about the victimization of the Catholic Church. The time has come for the Catholic Church to put the vultures in their place."
Vultures in their place, i.e. Bill Donahue in some cable TV interview chair. He makes me look peaceful... But there's more.
"Bishops would do well not to listen to those who always want to settle and start playing hardball. It’s time to countersue."
Oh, God. Here we go with the Viking funeral bit -- it's one of Donahue's strengths.

I've gotta say -- one of the smartest things Ed Egan ever did was to kick the Catholic League out of the New York chancery. Did it spare the rest of us headaches? Well, no... but at least it stripped those headaches of the appearance of coming from competent authority.

Next on deck in the "vultures in their place" department: The Cardinal Newman Society....

-30-

8 Comments:

Blogger Matthew Lickona said...

This is the first I've seen the Catholic League comment on it, but the situation in Spokane does seem to be something of a disaster, and the judge does seem to be on something of a tear...

29/8/05 18:26  
Blogger Perry Lorenzo said...

Well, I do rather agree with Mr Donahue. The present situation doesn't really seem to be about healing or forgiveness, but rather just plain money. Lots of money. In fact, as Forbes Magazine put it a while back, Catholic child abuse is the ASBESTOS of the 21st century!

29/8/05 19:09  
Blogger patrick said...

Donahue may be a blowhard, but he's right on here. The "victims" and their lawyers have gotten away with the "we're victims, so you can't criticize us" meme for way too long. Blowback from Cindy Sheehan's manipulative pr tactics?

29/8/05 19:26  
Blogger Todd said...

A few things:

- There is a victim mentality in American society; it's hard to move beyond the cycle of anger (a needed stage in healing) to the natural healthy development that follows.

- I don't think Donohue is the person to call the victims on their excesses. He's been over the top in too many instances.

- Sadly, I don't think the bishops themselves are in a place to do it either; they have too much invested in restoring their own reputations to suggest the victims and their lawyers are going overboard.

Face it: we live in a litigious society. Don't admit blame. Don't apologize. Hold out for the best possible settlement. Fact is, if the Church hadn't blundered the pre-1990 cases so badly, they wouldn't be in this spot.

I don't think there's an easy answer. It's not quite true they've gotten away with "we're victims, so you can't criticize." Bernardin's false accuser pretty much stopped the scandal in its tracks for years.

29/8/05 20:44  
Blogger Fr. John said...

Donahue has a point. As usual, his point is badly expressed, in a way that is divisive. He does not want to pursuade, it seems, as much as he wants to polarize.

There are real victims of clergy sex abuse, and the lives of some of these victims were turned upside down by their abuse. To lump all those who have sued the Chuch into one unholy category is false, excessive, and a serious violation of charity.

29/8/05 21:18  
Blogger edgleason said...

If the bishops are depending on Donahue's 'new yorky' voice to help reduce abuse bills , that will be the thirty third mistake they have made in this crisis..Is this what in the East they call a 'spokesperson???'!!!
Frisco eddie

29/8/05 21:28  
Blogger RCEsq said...

Regardless of the sometimes criminal stupidity and fecklessness of the Church's leadership, Bill Donahue is right in criticizing the litigants who are now driven by money and a desire to destroy the Church, and in calling for a hardheaded counter attack in the courts, because the bankruptcy judge's ruling falls squarely into the category of "bet your company" litigation.

Alas, it may already be too late. By being horribly disorganized and congenitally incapable of ceding diocesan autonomy to a centralized legal team, the American bishops have effectively shot themselves in the foot over and over again. Whatever one may think about Cardinal Mahony's pastoral leadership, in the main he's gone about handling the abuse lawsuits in the right way. Those battles are fought in Caesar's courts and must be handled on Caesar's terms.

Just think about it: if "healing" and "reconciliation" were truly the "victims'" goals, those can be achieved at far less than is paid out (and demanded) by the plaintiffs (any number of whom are victims of their own and their lawyers' creation). It simply does not cost millions to get effective therapy. It can, however, cost millions if you have lawyers on the scene who get a 40-50% contingency fee plus costs. People who lose both eyes or are made paraplegic don't collect anywhere near the sums that have been handed out in diocese after diocese. Furthermore, psychic wounds are typically subject to miraculous cures with the application of enough "green poultice" as my contracts professor called monetary damages.

What people forget is that the Church remains a non-profit charitable institution and that its property consists in the main of buildings that provide valuable services -- churches, schools, hospitals, social service agencies. Sure, you can sell a bishop's mansion or two without wreaking havoc on the institutional Church, but you can't force a diocese to liquidate all its real estate and hurt thousands of parishioners, pupils, patients and clients, to pay off the rapacious demands of a few hundred "victims" -- whether they are truly survivors of abuse or not. However, given the Portland ruling, that may well end up happening unless Catholics start to stand up for themselves and begin lobbying their legislators for protection.

31/8/05 02:12  
Blogger RCEsq said...

Regardless of the sometimes criminal stupidity and fecklessness of the Church's leadership, Bill Donahue is right in criticizing the litigants who are now driven by money and a desire to destroy the Church, and in calling for a hardheaded counter attack in the courts, because the bankruptcy judge's ruling falls squarely into the category of "bet your company" litigation.

Alas, it may already be too late. By being horribly disorganized and congenitally incapable of ceding diocesan autonomy to a centralized legal team, the American bishops have effectively shot themselves in the foot over and over again. Whatever one may think about Cardinal Mahony's pastoral leadership, in the main he's gone about handling the abuse lawsuits in the right way. Those battles are fought in Caesar's courts and must be handled on Caesar's terms.

Just think about it: if "healing" and "reconciliation" were truly the "victims'" goals, those can be achieved at far less than is paid out (and demanded) by the plaintiffs (any number of whom are victims of their own and their lawyers' creation). It simply does not cost millions to get effective therapy. It can, however, cost millions if you have lawyers on the scene who get a 40-50% contingency fee plus costs. People who lose both eyes or are made paraplegic don't collect anywhere near the sums that have been handed out in diocese after diocese. Furthermore, psychic wounds are typically subject to miraculous cures with the application of enough "green poultice" as my contracts professor called monetary damages.

What people forget is that the Church remains a non-profit charitable institution and that its property consists in the main of buildings that provide valuable services -- churches, schools, hospitals, social service agencies. Sure, you can sell a bishop's mansion or two without wreaking havoc on the institutional Church, but you can't force a diocese to liquidate all its real estate and hurt thousands of parishioners, pupils, patients and clients, to pay off the rapacious demands of a few hundred "victims" -- whether they are truly survivors of abuse or not. However, given the Portland ruling, that may well end up happening unless Catholics start to stand up for themselves and begin lobbying their legislators for protection.

31/8/05 02:14  

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