Saturday, October 17, 2009

From the "Long Lent" Desk

Almost eight years after the first Boston revelations of clergy sex-abuse and chancery cover-up threw American Catholicism into the most seismic crisis of its 300-year history, rarely still does a week go by without another addition (or several) to the litany of settlements that've cost the US church well in excess of $2 billion.

Announced on Thursday, the latest of the line was notable for the involvement of multiple dioceses... and a brutal twist:
A 45-year-old Houston man who claims he was sexually abused as a boy by former Baton Rouge Bishop Joseph Sullivan has settled his lawsuit against the Roman Catholic dioceses of Baton Rouge and Corpus Christi for $225,000, the man's attorney said....

Glenn Hymel filed his suit two years ago in Corpus Christi, alleging he was abused by Sullivan from 1978 to 1982 after entering a Baton Rouge seminary for minors.

Hymel said he transferred to a minor seminary in Corpus Christi after the Baton Rouge school closed. He claimed Sullivan visited the Corpus Christi school and continued to abuse him for years.

Chelsie King Garza, who represents Hymel, said Wednesday that Hymel also was abused by Sullivan in New York and Hawaii when the bishop had Hymel accompany him on trips to those states.

Sullivan served as bishop of the Diocese of Baton Rouge from 1974 until his death in 1982. The bishop's name adorned a Baton Rouge high school for years, but it was erased after an out-of-court settlement in 2004 of another suit alleging Sullivan had sexually abused a minor boy.
On a related note, Ireland's High Court gave its approval on Thursday for the release of the much-anticipated Murphy Report, which'll detail the findings of a state inquiry into the history of abuse and cover-up in the archdiocese of Dublin.

With the capital's top prelate long on-record that the findings "will be a shock" with "a humbler church" as its result, early word says that the reputes of the last four Dublin archbishops and several of their top aides are in for a "hefty unspiritual nosedive."

And, lastly, a less-covered aspect of clergy misconduct came into wider focus yesterday as the New York Times led its Friday editions with the story of a Missouri woman's struggle for support from the "brown Franciscans" for her cancer-stricken son, now 22, the product of a lengthy relationship with one of the community's priests.

Following the story's emergence (in violation of a confidentiality agreement), the cleric's faculties were suspended by the Wisconsin diocese where he had been serving. On disclosing his paternity to his current parish, a spokesman for the diocese of Superior told the AP that the friar -- a former seminary rector -- "received a standing ovation."