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August 08, 2005

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David

The Americans have a tendency, to the theater, the excess, to the comedy, that really surprises disagreeably.

Maureen

And it's hi, ho, heyyyyyy
I am the lot-of-nerve-er.
And it's hi, ho-o-o, heyyyy
I am the process server.

Note that this wouldn't be funny if the subpoena had actually disrupted Mass.

I do wonder why it wasn't given out earlier. Did they just all of a sudden decide to subpoena him or what?

Peggy

Talk about Cheeky Lawyers!

cs

For those who wish to see exactly how this has played out in Philly, check out yesterday's Philadelphia Inquirer: in the first of many, many stories, the Philly DA's report is previewed. A priest who molested 10 boys was let go in 1985, and just now laicised. John Cardinal Krol participated in the coverup.

A friend who testified before the Grand Jury let me know that this is going to ugly. Boston ugly.

Nancy

David, maybe that's the only time they could catch him. I don't imagine he's made himself exactly available to be served.

David

Nancy, I doubt that the only form to reach to the Archbishop of San Francisco is making a spectacle. The Archbishop has a private residence and that it they could have reached of deprived way , but then there would not be spectacle and public humiliation, that is what like the Americans, or not?

BenYachov(Jim Scott 4th)

Did the court servers invite reporters? Then that IMHO would make it a specticle on their part.

Septimus

Let's be very clear...

Approaching the celebrant, and thrusting legal papers into his hand, minutes prior to the celebration of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass...

IS DISRUPTING Mass!

Don't like Levada? Think he's awful? Don't want him celebrating the Mass? Fine; make that point apart from the Mass.

But a priest needs to focus on the awesome, world-transcending, heaven-and-earth-combining event of Calvary becoming truly present at the altar; and no priest can ever do the Mass justice, no priest can ever be recollected enough; but every priest needs to "begin Mass" some minutes before Mass begins for everyone else...

Or, do we like the idea of the celebrant "phoning it in"? How does that help anyone?

Some distractions, just prior to the beginning of Mass, can't be helped, or, even if they can, aren't meant badly.

This was planned, timed for public spectacle, and -- in my opinion -- shows a contempt for the Mass, treating the Sacrifice as a backdrop for scoring points.

Contemptible and inexcusable.

sj

Why did they even need to subpoena him? Wouldn't he be considered a witness under the control of the parties to the case,if not a party himself, and so reachable by a discovery notice?

Fr. Totton

"This was planned, timed for public spectacle, and -- in my opinion -- shows a contempt for the Mass, treating the Sacrifice as a backdrop for scoring points."

Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do!

Certainly the Archbishop could have been served at some other venue - chancery office, private residence, etc. No doubt this was s deliberate ploy to catch him off guard. However, so few Catholics understand the sublimity of the Mass. It is not unthinkable that a process server who may or may not have been "catholic" would fail to think through the significance of such a moment. There can be no question that it was disrespectful, however, would this have been done in another time when the Mass was understood by all (even non-Catholics) to be a most sacred event? I must ask: where the faithful chit-chatting and whooping it up in the Cathedral before the Mass began?

Ronny

David, maybe that's the only time they could catch him. I don't imagine he's made himself exactly available to be served.

Given that he has a well known residence and office and likely does not have the time or resources to spend evading process servers, I don't imagine that he has been skulking around the archdiocese exactly in order to avoid it, either.

Carrie

Had he not been successfully served, would he have been able to make his way to Rome and thus become exempt from testifying?

Ronny

Had he not been successfully served, would he have been able to make his way to Rome and thus become exempt from testifying?

Are you just curious, or are you wanting to accuse him of an attempt to abscond?

By the way, I thought that there were other ways to serve process besides in person. I'm sure it varies from one jurisdiction to another, but I have read that in some places one can do it by serving the papers to one's attorney or that they can be served via mail or fax as long as a declaration is filed with the clerk of the court. Point being that if Levada really was that hard for the process server to find, were there not other means of serving process at the server's disposal?

Mary Kay

Fr. Totton, nonCatholics don't get the sublimity of the Mass, but every nonCatholic I've heard from does have a sense that the Mass is special and sacred to Catholics. They might not know the extent of their disrespect, but I don't buy that they didn't know what they were doing.

On this topic I agree with Septimus: that it was planned, timed to be a spectacle and if it disrupted the Mass, so much the better.

While I understand a high level of emotional pain, it should not be used to duck responsibility for wrong behavior.


Chuck C

"thwarted in its efforts to serve the archbishop at his office"

Take it with as many grains of salt as you prefer (from _The Oregonian_)
http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonian/index.ssf?/base/front_page/1119607594304840.xml&coll=7
Plaintiffs pursuing archbishop deposition
William Levada, a Roman Catholic authority on clergy sex abuse, led the Archdiocese of Portland from 1986 to 1995
Friday, June 24, 2005
STEVE WOODWARD
[.... snip ....]
If Levada does not voluntarily agree to the deposition, Olson said she would be forced to serve Levada in California with a subpoena requiring his testimony. If she cannot serve him in California, where, his Web site says, his last day as Archbishop is Aug. 17, she said she might have to work through the Vatican's U.S. ambassador to reach Levada in Rome.

"The diplomatic processes would be very difficult and very expensive," she said.

Patrick Wall, a former priest and Benedictine monk who works with Manly, the California plaintiffs' lawyer in an abuse case unrelated to Oregon, said putting a subpoena directly in Levada's hands, as required, could be difficult.

Since Levada's May 13 appointment as leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faithful, Wall said, the Manly & McGuire law firm has been thwarted in its efforts to serve the archbishop at his office, at Masses and at weddings, among other venues. His subordinates say either that they don't know where he is or that he cannot be served because of his new status at the Vatican.

"They put their hands up in front of the process servers and said he's now Emeritus (Archbishop)," Wall said.
[snip]

Ronny

If the report Chuck C. cites is accurate, then it certainly puts this incident in a different light.

John J. Simmins

This was done for the pure theater of it. I find it difficult to believe that Levada is hard to find or evading the process servers. I don't care what lawyers or lawyer wannabe's for the plaintiffs say. They are trying to make him look bad. They served him before mass to back up their claim that he's beed evading them. It is to try him in the court of public opinion.

Septimus

The idea that this was "the only way" or -- to lower the threshold -- the "best way" to serve Levada is laughable. I have to say to that: PROVE IT.

Levada is a very public person; it's not as though he can "melt into the scenery" and disappear.

As to whether he can "flee" to the Vatican and escape the reach of the judicial process: I am unaware of the specifics of the law here; but they are largely irrelevant anyway.

Why? Well, let us suppose, for sake of argument, that the law actually would be that the Archbishop could escape legal process that way (note: this may not be true, but let's say for now).

The various remedies the aggrieved parties would have are many and potent, not excluding getting on a plane, flying over to Rome, and engaging in all sorts of theatrical, media-attracting demonstrations putting Levada, and the Vatican, on the spot. Coupled with similar activities here. All legitimate free speech.

Question: who thinks the PRIMARY purpose of thie event was to "serve papers"? Was it coincidence the demonstration was going on? That members of the press just happened to be there? Who believe that?

By the way, if he could flee the jurisiction prior to be served, can he not still do so?

And, he couldn't be served just AFTER Mass? Really...

It's certainly possible that the one who actually decided WHEN to serve the archbishop, did so unaware of the sacredness of the moment. My suspicion is that such a decision was not left to the process-server, but was made by the one who sent him, timed for maximum impact as spectacle: just prior to Mass. So I could be wrong on that count.

Nancy

As Chuck C's post points out, we don't know the whole story. Chuck's post may or may not be accurate; there may be other facts unknown to us in this situation.

An archbishop who is capable of blaming a woman who slept with his seminarian for the resultant pregnancy because she didn't use birth control is undoubtedly capable of any manner of behavior.

An honest man would make himself available for service of process. (They were going to get him sooner or later anyway; all he could do was cause delay, expense, and, of course, scandal.) People who play games with this part of the procedure usually have something to hide.

I may be wrong about this, but I personally cannot picture Cardinal Ratzinger, when or before he held this office in the Vatican, playing games like this. Big shoes to fill, I'll admit, but Levada's previous behavior gives me some pause at least.

T. Chan

Septimus, I was about to ask whether he has some sort of diplomatic status that would allow him to get out of this legal obligation. (Not to say that he should, nor to say that he doesn't have any good reasons to postpone it.)

Nancy

T. Chan. The "good reasons" to postpone engaging with people who allege that you've injured them being what? That it's inconvenient to you?

Without a doubt. But if their allegations are correct, you've inconvenienced them a fair amount, wouldn't you say? And you are above the secular law why? Because you're an Archbishop? Lord help us.

Septimus

In fairness, it may be as Nancy suggested: the Archbishop may have forced the hand of the other side. We don't know the full story.

I think, however, that the story involving the argument that the pregnant woman seeking financial help from the archdiocese was (at least in part) to blame for unprotected sex is a good place in which to apply a rule I often recommend: never ascribe to malice what may just as well be explained by incompetence, i.e., instead of the archbishop intentionally signing off on that clunky argument, instead he signed off without reading it.

In the case of the subpoena, I find it harder to ascribe to incompetence on the part of the ones seeking testimony; but it could, as indicated above, be a process of playing chicken.

It could be incompetence on the part of the Archbishop's flak-catchers, who, in the course of "protecting" their boss, making him look bad. I saw that a lot in politics, on the part of very self-important "Staff" on Capitol Hill.

prefer not to say

"I find it difficult to believe that Levada is hard to find or evading the process servers. I don't care what lawyers or lawyer wannabe's for the plaintiffs say."

I find it difficult to believe that a priest would molest a small child. Or that other priests would cover it up, and then put that priest in other situations where he would have easy access to children. Or that an archbishop would carelessly sign off on a document that suggests a woman must bear all the responsibility for having a seminarian's child because she failed to use birth control. So I guess that means that stuff never happened either?

Nancy

If I were a process server, and if Chuck C.'s post is substantially correct, then I would have served the good Archbishop before the service, on the presumption that the man could very well (and probably would have) disappeared into the Cathedral's Nether Regions immediately after Mass, thus becoming again unreachable.

If I were Cardinal Levada (which may God forbid), and if I knew that someone was seeking to serve me with papers (he certainly knew), and if I myself respected the holiness of the Mass, I would have made myself openly available at an agreed time on the steps of my residence rather than hiding behind functionaries, and thus avoided this whole event.

Nancy

Very acute comment, Septimus. I've been assuming that Levada is personally in control here, whereas everything I know about the chancery, here and elsewhere, is that it is riddled with flak-catchers, functionaries and just plain useless persons who make it nearly impossible to function.

However. As in my law office, the man (or in my case, the woman) at the top has to take responsibility. If the staff is behaving in a reprehensible way, it is his/her responsibility to see that this doesn't happen.

David

"An archbishop who is capable of blaming a woman who slept with his seminarian for the resultant pregnancy because she didn't use birth control is undoubtedly capable of any manner of behavior."


Nancy, you could not be also mistaken in this history, you always take the worse option and you turn it the only truth, you really believe that the Archbishop Levada is the monster that the mass media tell us?

David

"An archbishop who is capable of blaming a woman who slept with his seminarian for the resultant pregnancy because she didn't use birth control is undoubtedly capable of any manner of behavior."


Nancy, could you not be also mistaken in this history?, you always take the worse option and you turn it the only truth, you really believe that the Archbishop Levada is the monster that the mass media tell us?

Nancy

David, the Archbishop's legal papers say that Stephanie shares the blame for the pregnancy because she engaged in "unprotected sex." That's a matter of public record, and I have read the pleadings. That is the fact of the matter.

It has been argued here for a variety of reasons that the Archbishop is not responsible for the pleadings that go out to the secular courts over his name. I won't rehearse those arguments here, except to say what I said before: the man in charge is supposed to be in charge. The lawyer is a hired hand. The client is the boss.

When you ask me whether I am "mistaken in this history" you are asking me if the Archbishop's papers really say that. They do.

If you have some "alternate truth" to oppose to this "worse truth" I'd be interested in hearing it, and in reading your justification.

I don't think Levada is a "monster", and I never said that he was. I think there are some soft places in his honesty. And because of that, I think him unqualified for the office he is about to assume, and unqualified for the office he currently holds, for that matter. These are my opinions.

Septimus

T Chan:

As I think I said, I don't know the law in this regard; but I do maintain that it's not the main issue, anyway; because the folks seeking Levada's cooperation in this legal matter (I read the article linked in this thread twice -- I couldn't find any identification of just who that is) have many potent weapons, even supposing the law gave them no succor at all (which I don't know actually to be the case): namely, making a stink about it, and making Levada, and hence the leadership of the Church, look bad.

Now, it may be true Levada really doesn't care about that, even as he heads off to a much higher profile position in Rome; it may be that the Vatican doesn't care. (Again, could be, but this remains unproved.)

But I think there are very good reasons why Levada should care, and why the Vatican should care, and there are folks in a position, better perhaps than the ones suing in this case, to get that point across.

Set aside whether you think the USCCB "cares" about the aggrieved parties in this case; do you think they care about the first time an American prelate is elevated to this prestigious position being dogged by this sort of thing?

I thought the prevailing narrative was that these fellows were self-protective; not that they were merely galactically stupid.

And if it comes down to "getting the message through," there are many ways to do that, that need not cost a lot of money or require a lot of "power": for example, it could be as easy as finding a big donor, put a stack of press-clippings in his or her hand, and say: "can you get a message through to Abp. Levada? Tell him this is going to dog him, all the way to Rome, unless he accepts the subpoena. And if that doesn't matter to him, do you think it might to the head of the USCCB? Call him, next."

David

Nancy, I'm sorry if I have bothered to you.
But I want tell you that all the people have some soft places in our honesty, in the world all the people are sinners, you and me, and Levada too.

Nancy

Of course we're all sinners, David. But we (rightly) require a certain level of integrity in our spiritual leaders. (See Paul's letter to Timothy, for examples.) Because we are all sinners does not mean that we should (to take an extreme and ridiculous case) elevate a mass murderer to Cardinal.

In my opinion, Cdl. Levada's "soft places" are in such a location, and of such an extent, as to disqualify him for the high offices he holds and proposes to hold.

Septimus. Was it self-protective or galactically stupid? How about all this stuff? One asks the same question.

I'd say galactically stupid, but that's just one person's opinion. I'd submit that there is behavior of the American Catholic hierarchy in the last few years that will answer to no other description, but I know there are those who disagree with me.

Nancy

But. With that stupidity comes dishonesty.

If your common drug-dealer leaps over his back fence when the law comes to call, and is nabbed by the cop on the next street over, we'd say that was pretty stupid to think he could get away. But underlying that stupidity is the dishonesty that put him in that situation in the first place, and that made him need to get away. If I, innocent of drug dealing, am served with a warrant, I will welcome it, because I know I can prove my innocence in court, and because I know that running off won't get me anywhere.

Levada does not lack for financial resources to defend himself. Since they're going to catch up with him sooner or later anyhow, why all the game playing? (If there was.) Wouldn't it be a better example, to say the least, to make oneself available for service, saying, "I respect the laws that protect the innocent. I will gladly show up for this deposition." (He isn't, after all, being charged with a crime, merely asked to give testimony.)

Crocodylus Pontifex

"Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do!"

No, they know exactly what they do. This incident, as are many in this entire ordeal, was a direct attack on the Church.

To be sure, there are some legitimate claimants who were truly and tragically abused. However, some of the participants in this whole matter were not actually abused, and they are involved only because of their hate for the Church.

Do you really think that Satan and his minions are just sitting back and watching this spectacle? Or are they actively involved and participating in attacks on the Church, while prowling about the world seeking the ruin of souls? It is important to realized that, mixed in amongst legitimate victims, are many, many enemies of the God and His Church.

Crocodylus Pontifex

Make that -- It is important to realize that, mixed in amongst legitimate victims, are many, many enemies of God and His Church.

(where's the spell check and grammar check on this thing?)

Septimus

Nancy - no offense, but do you notice you seem to be drifting toward the position that Levada has so little sense, so little intelligence, even about protecting himself, that he can't figure out what you just did? I.e., "why all the game-playing?"

Certainly, one can explain someone else's inexplicable behavior as being so stupid as to fail to be self-protective. But, really, self-protection is one of the most fundamental impulses we all have; it takes very little, indeed, to say to almost anyone: "If you do that, you will feel pain. Oh, you didn't listen to me. That hurt, didn't it? Well, if you do it again, it will hurt more." It takes about, oh, three brain cells to comprehend such an argument.

Because all the aggrieved parties in this case have to do, really, is get a message to Levada, to the Vatican, or to the USCCB: "here's what we can do. You will experience PAIN. Here's how to avoid that. What is your preference?"

Now, your argument seems to be that not only does Levada not possess sufficient wattage to get this, neither does anyone in position at the Vatican, neither does the USCCB.

Now, that may really be true; but, honestly, isn't that extremely unlikely?

Patrick Rothwell

I disagree with Nancy's point that Archbishop Levada has acted dishonestly. There is nothing inherently dishonest or dishonorable or sinful in attempting to avoid service of process. Nor is there any evidence that he has behaved dishonestly or dishonorably in this particular circumstance. (Nor for that matter, did the trial lawyers or the process servers behave dishonorably by serving Levada in the way that they did). If, however, when all is said and done, Levada ends up being deposed and commits perjury, then that's different.

Nancy

Now, your argument seems to be that not only does Levada not possess sufficient wattage to get this, neither does anyone in position at the Vatican, neither does the USCCB.

Now, that may really be true; but, honestly, isn't that extremely unlikely?

Septimus, I'm as puzzled as you are. You would think that after everything we've all been through, the US bishops and everyone concerned would have learned that the best strategy is openness and telling the truth, and not harboring criminals or secrets. Apparently not.

It's the same in politics really. Have politicians learned yet, after Watergate, that if anyone knows it, sooner or later everyone will know it, and that the only smart response to bad news is to tell the entire truth immediately? Not so's I can tell anyhow.

Maybe it's not just sin that makes you stupid. Maybe it's power or perceived power too.

Septimus. I'd be interested in your explanation for this seemingly inexplicable behavior.

Well, Patrick, you're probably right. But you must admit that the final outcome of everyone's behavior here didn't exactly make Levada look good.

Anyway, by whatever means, the Archbishop was served. So, whether he wants to or not (and apparently he doesn't want to) he will show up at a deposition and give testimony. I'm certainly not presuming that he will perjure himself. Hard to see the downside of truthful testimony. Crocodylus, what's Satanic about telling the truth?

Nancy

To be sure, there are some legitimate claimants who were truly and tragically abused. However, some of the participants in this whole matter were not actually abused, and they are involved only because of their hate for the Church.

I wouldn't mind seeing some evidence for this statement, Croc. Especially about the people involved because of their "hate for the Church." These people would be who exactly? And you would know their motives how exactly? Or are you just making noise?

Further, even if you are right (and who can know) this is a good reason to stonewall legitimate victims why exactly?

julian

Even if Levada had avoided the process servers, it is in execrable taste to serve the archbishop before Mass. I doubt that it was an open attack on the Church, a la Thomas a Becket, but it smacks of being calculated for effect. However, I don't know. A slightly ignorant process server could have made a very poor decision.

In any event, Archbishop Levada should welcome this opportunity to set the record straight.

DarwinCatholic

See, the I guess the distinction is, Nancy, that given that it seems very hard to imagine that it would be all that difficult to serve a public figure like Levada, and given that serving him when when the media and the maximum number of people are present for his last mass as bishop before leaving would provide exactly the kind of publicity that the plaintiff's lawyers might like -- it seems most reasonable to several of us that the reason he was served on the way into mass was because the process server (or his/her boss) wanted it that way, not because it was particularly hard to serve him at some other time.

Holding the other opinion we have "Patrick Wall, a former priest and Benedictine monk who works with Manly, the California plaintiffs' lawyer in an abuse case unrelated to Oregon".

Now, I'm dis-inclined to trust ex-priests in the first place, and given that it seems logical that it would be moderately easy to serve Levada, and yet the way that it was done served to maximize the publicity against him, it seems most reasonable to me that while it might have taken a little bit of work to serve Levada (like say, showing up when he was actually in his office, or visitting him home when he was there, or maybe even just scheduling an appointment) what happened is in fact exactly what the serving party wanted to happen -- for whatever reason.

Nancy

Darwin, who knows. But at any rate, the deed is done.

If Levada welcomes the opportunity to set the record straight, he should be glad too.

Nancy

All I can say is, if I had advised Levada I would have suggested, nay urged, a different strategy.

I would have scheduled a Process-Serving, by arrangement with opposition counsel, at the bishop's residence at a time and place previously agreed upon. Invite the media, OK, small story. If opposition counsel had played a hard game and refused that, I'd have made that refusal - with documentation, of course - known with big loud letters when the service occurred just before Mass, thus making the opposition look bad.

Perhaps the diocesan lawyers thought they would get away with an avoidance strategy. If so, it certainly backfired.

Peggy

What happened to the days of the server (or whomever) waiting all day in the outer office for the bishop, in this case, to emerge and then serve him?

Nancy

I imagine the bishop has a back door, Peggy.

Septimus

Nancy: Well, without attempting a "global" explanation, even of the bishops and their functionaries, in relation to "the Scandal," I would offer the following observations, above and beyond the ones we can all think of (Original Sin, selfishness, stupidity):

1. Setting aside, for now, the question of sinfulness, venality, and a desire to hide ones own sins, etc., clergy (i.e., bishops, priests, and agencies acting under their purview) have some conflicting obligations in these matters.

"Secret" has a negative connotation, while "confidential" has a more neutral one; but in substance, what's the difference?

A bishop, a priest, or the chancery as a whole, while having obligations to victims and to the public, also have obligations to honor commitments of confidentiality, whether to other victims, to parties involved who might not be "victims" per se, but who would be hurt by a disclosure they expected to be confidential, to employees, and to clerics themselves.

(And, before someone jumps on this, I'm not saying the clerics who abuse are simply protected by "confidentiality"; I'm saying that clerics, per se, are entitled to confidentiality, for the same reasons as the rest of us; and are entitled to a special confidentiality insofar as they have a bond with their bishop; and while this isn't absolute, it is *something*; and the cases when it ought to be overriden may not always be clearcut.)

To use a low-key but common example: anyone who employs anyone knows how the obligation to confidentiality binds the employer, and renders him/her relatively defenseless, when an unhappy employee complains and makes allegations.

I guess part of my point is, there are good reasons why some things are confidential; and in the midst of all the legal wrangling, I am concerned that the Church's legitimate freedom of action, either as a theological matter, or simply as an employer, may suffer because we don't like "secrecy."

2. Given that we exist in a litigious environment, and our legal system is adversarial -- and, given that I have not more than a layman's understanding of this process -- it seems understandable to me that anyone involved in any sort of litigation, or even fearful of the same -- is forced, by the "nature of the beast," to protect oneself in ways one would rather not.

Now, we all want our best people to be their best, and we ourselves, want to be the best we can be; but how many of us would not play hardball, were we involved in litigation that bids to be expensive, not to mention creating precedent we may long rue, and while centered around certain vivid, easy-to-understant facts and principles, nonetheless proves, upon further review, to be exceedingly complex and not so morally clear?

Again, I am NOT saying there's lack of clarity about the wrongness of sex abuse. But can there be lack of clarity about culpability? Sure. How about credibility of witnesses? You bet.

Now, I reiterate my opening point: it could be the bishops are simply being rotten.

But I can also picture this: a bishop says, "let's just admit we were wrong, and say we'll do whatever we can to help!"

And the lawyer responds, "you have no idea what legal hell will descend upon you, your successors, and your flock, by doing that. The victims deserve justice; doesn't the Church deserve justice, too? Wouldn't it be unjust to the Church, as a body, to give a blank check?"

Now, bishops aren't the only ones who hear lawyers say such things, and listen to them, because, in our society, only lawyers anymore seem to understand our legal system.

Now, honestly, Nancy; stipulating that the Church ought to pay "the right amount" (however, in this world, we figure that out), I daresay you would agree that justice doesn't demand simply signing blank checks and passing them out. After all, a blank check in the hands of an unscrupulous lawyer, or a dubious "claimant," certainly means less justice for more deserving claimants.

So, no, I don't like it when bishops play hardball in court. But who among us, wouldn't do the same, if the stakes were just as high for ourselves, or for a treasured institution we were charged with protecting?

Also, consider this thought-experiment. Suppose, fantastically, all the bishops in all the dioceses in the U.S. acted together, and said, collectively: "let's make a grand, all-inclusive settlement. All victims, come forward; we're going to pay; somehow, we're going to pay the most we can, to all concerned, make it as right as we can, get this over with, for everyone's sake.

"The deal is, we have to close the books on all old cases. No immunity for future wrong acts, but this clears out all old cases."

Now, supposing this could happen, and supposing the best possible outcome: the victims said, "no amount could be 'enough,' but this is a lot; we ask no more money; the Church has agreed to all other non-monetary demands, as well, and this settles it for us." The Church said, "this hurts us bad, but we have to make it right, as best we can. We now start anew. God help us."

Now, after that happens, who doesn't harbor a suspicion that somewhere, an enterprising lawyer doesn't worm out a loophole in this deal; and doesn't find a judge to go along with it; and all of sudden, the nightmare returns. Would that be just? I think not.

So, the Church shouldn't play hardball. But wouldn't the rest of us?

3. Insofar as we're dealing with not a unitary structure, but with a vast complexity of many human actors, the possible permutations of good and bad motives, variations of malevolence and incompetence, acting on each other, not with an additive, but a multiplying effect -- not to mention an inertia-inducing effect...I tend to see the glass rather fuller than not.

Look: think about when a group of people spontaneously decide, "let's go get something to eat." The bigger the group gets, the more agonizingly sluggish the decision-making is.

You end up spending way too long deciding where to go; then way too long getting "the group" in motion, actually to go. God help you if you decide to car-pool or follow each other. Then..."oh, wait, Joe went to the bathroom--he said wait for him." I, for one, usually just grab one or two, saying, "let's just go to ____," then we leave saying, "join us at ____'s if you want. Bye." Much less frustrating.

My point is, given the glacial inertia I expect from all sorts of group-decision-making, it is heartening the extent to which the Church has acted already. Much is heartbreaking, much is maddening, much remains to be done. But much has happened, all the same.

Ronny

I wouldn't mind seeing some evidence for this statement, Croc. Especially about the people involved because of their "hate for the Church." These people would be who exactly? And you would know their motives how exactly? Or are you just making noise?

Croc may not have evidence of a specific case for his statement, but we should bear in mind that not every priest accused of molestation is actually guilty of it. People have falsely accused others (not just priests) of abuse before, sometimes for financial gain, revenge, psychological disturbance, etc. I remember reading about one such notorious case some years ago in which a whole group of kids accused some teachers of a abuse. I believe that "recovered memories" played a part in that case, and it later came out that the accused were innocent all along.

Samuel J. Howard

"If opposition counsel had played a hard game and refused that, I'd have made that refusal - with documentation, of course - known with big loud letters when the service occurred just before Mass, thus making the opposition look bad."

In which case you'd complain that he was taking his case to the media and needlessly embarassing the innocent victims.

Nancy

Ronny,

Croc didn't just say that some of the accusers could be mistaken, sick or just plain wrong. He said they were in conscious league with Satan.

I will readily agree that to a certainty not every accusation is true. Furthermore, that some of those making false accusations are doing so out of malice.

But that the whole bunch of them are consciously in league with the Master of Darkness? This seems overblown.

Septimus, gotta go think about your post.

Nancy

Not a bit of it, Samuel. A man makes himself available for service, opposition counsel declines just so he/she can make a scene? No excuses for that one, not out of me.

Nancy

Ok, Septimus, gotta step back a few paces.

In the beginning, some priests molested children. This is probably unavoidable, given human nature.

Then, by one means or another, bishops found out about it. Either parents complained, or children complained, or other priests complained.

Here's where things get sticky.

Normal men in normal situations of authority are horrified when they learn that an adult has molested a child, and the more horrified if that adult was in their employ. The police are contacted without delay. Determination of guilt or innocence is left to the secular authorities; if guilt seems probable even, the man is fired.

Under such circumstances it is difficult, though admittedly not impossible, but very difficult, to saddle the supervising organization with financial responsibility. For they exercised ordinary prudence immediately, when ordinary prudence was called for. No organization is required to possess the Second Sight.

However, as we all know, this is not what happened in the Church, for whatever reason. Priests were transferred away from the scene of trouble, to other situations where they could make trouble, over and over again.

Your analysis takes up at that point. We've done wrong, we've enabled and produced wrong, over and over, and now what.

What is the best way out of this corner? Well, there's no good way, so much is clear. Do we admit responsibility, and bankrupt ourselves financially? Or do we deny responsibility, and bankrupt ourselves morally?

When I was a kid, back in the day, we were taught that God forgives sin. All sin (except the mysterious "sin against the Holy Ghost") at confession. But we were also taught that the results of sin remain, and that we have the responsibility to clean up after ourselves. Thus, one would be denied absolution after theft unless one restored the stolen goods. And so forth.

I wish I could think that this spirit animates the bishops: the understanding that horrible wrong was done, and the desire to make it right. Instead, I see little reformation of heart. They covered up, they're still trying to cover up, no change.

Is this deliberate? Or just confusion, as in your "lunch" example?

I have a son who is chronically late. NEVER on time. He doesn't wear a watch. I said, "Maybe that's why he's late." His father said, "If that were the case, he ought to be early half the time, and late half the time."

If the bishops were merely confused, they ought to be too generous half the time, and not generous enough half the time. That they seem to be always sneaky (or that my son is always late) hints at other factors than mere confusion.

Peggy

An answer for everything, eh, Nancy?

Fine--Wait in the back, too! There are other scheduled events where one could follow a bishop around rather than at Mass.

Nancy

Peggy, all responsibility for moral behavior in this situation falls not on the Successor to the Apostles, but on the process server???!?

Septimus

Nancy:

Well, just to be clear, the point of my "lunch" example (actually dinner, but no matter) was intended not about the bishops' "confusion," but simply about group inertia.

Nancy

You don't need money to have a Church.

The early Christian churches had no money, no buildings. (They were in fact in many places outlaws.) But they had faith, they had Christ, and that was enough.

My son attends a Christian church in Berkeley. They have nothing. They meet in a rented hall. The minister has a full time job elsewhere to support his family. The church lives from hand to mouth. But the Spirit is alive with them, and they are full of faith.

People here would say that their faith is defective, not being allied with the Roman Catholic Church. Perhaps. But if it is defective, it's not defective because they don't have a bank account.

Have we become so concerned with protecting our "assets" that we've forgotten where our real assets ought to be? "Do not store up treasure here, where moths and rust consume, and where thieves break in to steal." If the Roman Catholic Church loses every penny in this debacle, is that the end of the world, or the end of the Church?

Not if it was real to start with.

Patrick Rothwell

"The early Christian churches had no money, no buildings."

I question this statement. The members of the Church of the apostolic age may have held all possessions in common. That does not mean that the early churches had no money. Recall that deacons were created to serve the poor suggests. And how did the Church obtain the food, clothing, and other necessities of life for the widows and orphans? $$$$$. It certainly didn't rain down like manna from heaven.

Archbishop Marcinkus may have been a crook, but he was surely right when he said that you can't run the Church on Hail Marys.

Even rinky-dink store-front churches and hippy communes need money to operate - otherwise they quickly close up shop.


Septimus

Hold on, Nancy; I think you're mixing a couple of very different issues together.

To say the Church can, and ought, to be able to go on without property, buildings, and treasures, is one thing. That much is certainly true. But that's a far cry from saying the Church -- whether her leadership, or her members -- ought not to care, one way or the other.

These treasures of the Church belong, not just to us, in this time and place, but to the whole Church, everywhere, past, present and future. Bishops are right to safeguard that(though not, of course, at all costs--please, let's not get sidetracked on that claim).

Another point: the treasury of art the Church safeguards, she safeguards not simply for herself, but for the world.

I think the whole world would poorer were these treasures to disappear, either into private collections, no longer available to the world, or simply disappear altogether: broken up, melted down (it's not inconceivable; such has been the more common destiny of very precious things, made of precious elements).

Supposing St. Patrick's Cathedral in NYC had to be sold--who would buy it? What would become of it?

And, while public outrage would probably prevent Donald Trump from turning it into his own "conference center," lots of lesser known edifices, edifying the faithful in lots of lesser known places, would no doubt end up as bars, restaurants, or private homes.

Now, perhaps you think humanity doesn't need art, and beauty; but I doubt you assert anything so radical.

So, call the bishops rotten, and maybe they are; but even a blind squirrel collects some nuts.

Peggy

Nancy,

I said no such thing. I was speaking specifically to the point that there are probably a good many more appropriate settings in which to serve a subpoena. Clearly, the process server was not lacking in creativity, but (s)he went too far in serving just prior to Mass as we've said.

I have not read the particulars to understand what Bp Levada has to do with the case at hand. I don't know what he's hiding from, if he's indeed hiding. I will confess to having a bias against these lawsuits, though I am quite in favor of pervert priests and any accomplices being locked up in jail, laicized, etc.

Nancy

Not jeweled vestments, Patrick. Not immensely valuable real estate. Not immeasurably valuable art.

I like the "rinky-dink store-front churches" part. Let's show respect to fellow believers...but not unless they have fancy cathedrals. Otherwise, we'll just diss them, scum that they are.

Very little money is needed, really, in the grand scheme of things. Certainly not enough to prompt successors of the Apostles to slink about through back doors to evade service of process to protect it.

Remember what St. Lawrence said, when it was demanded of him to produce the treasury of the church? He showed the widows, the orphans, and said, "Here are the church's treasures."

Would that our bishops now could be like this deacon, and instead of showing cathedrals and buildings, would show abused children whose lives had been aided by church resources (after initial wrongdoing by that very church...) and say, "Here are our buildings. Here is our heart. May all these forgive us."

Nancy

(PS. If they did that, all the banks in the world would not have accounts enough to hold the contributions that would flow in to these righteous ones.)

Nancy

Seamus, St. Pat's is my favorite building in NYC. I would grieve indeed if it were sold.

But. There are more important values.

I had a friend who had a fine house. To make the mortgage, both parents had to work 80 hour weeks; the child was neglected. I protested, and my friend said, "If we scale back we can't keep the house."

I said, "If that's the price, burn it to the ground."

As for art? There are museums in the world. The Church's art collections should be in them. When did the Church of Christ become an art collector? Did Jesus drag fine period mosaics around with him? That's not to say that art isn't a value, it is, but is it the Church's job to protect it?

And if so, why isn't the Church buying chunks of rain forest as a conservation measure?

The Church is not the Omnium Institutium of the whole world. Art museums, conservation institutions, the whole range, have their proper areas of operation.

It is good if we can do these things. But at what cost? That people mangled as children live out their lives without help? Too high a price, methinks.

Patrick Rothwell

"Not jeweled vestments, Patrick. Not immensely valuable real estate. Not immeasurably valuable art."

"Very little money is needed, really, in the grand scheme of things. Certainly not enough to prompt successors of the Apostles to slink about through back doors to evade service of process to protect it."

This is cheap grandstanding. Those who decry the "riches" of the Catholic Church, including real estate, fancy vestments, and so on, ought to sell their home, their cars, their nice earrings, suits, etc. first before they complain.

Ronny

Nancy,

Certainly not enough to prompt successors of the Apostles to slink about through back doors to evade service of process to protect it.

If> that is what actually happened in this case.

You keep admitting that we don't know the whole story, that what is reported in the news may not be an entirely accurate account, and otherwise using conditional statements about this case.

Nearly every time, however, you follow with an unqualified statement about how Levada is skulking around the archdiocese trying to evade process servers as though it were proven fact.

To what extent are we talking about facts here, and to what extent are we assuming the worst about someone?

Septimus

Nancy, you're running aground on this one, no offense.

When did the Church of Christ become an art collector?

You're kidding, right?

The Church was and is one of the great (if not the greatest) patrons of art, for over 1500 years; which explains, to a large degree, all the art you mention in those museums! And museums are wonderful things, but they cost someone money, frequently the taxpayer, which is fine, but there is a limit. And there was not always the resources for such institutions.

Hence, for much of history, splendid art was the private joy of very rich people. Such is still the case, but less so.

C'mon, Nancy, you know perfectly well that any number of works of art would disappear into private collections, because rich people would buy them, and want them there. Or, are you proposing the taxpayer should commit to outbidding the Donald Trumps of the world?

The Church made art available to everyone, first by commissioning it, then by displaying it, in places of worship.

Undoubtedly, there would be a lot less art in the world, and a lot fewer artists would ever have realized their abilities, had the Church observed, through the ages, the approach you are promoting.

In the mysteries of God's Providence, ought it to have been thus? I am too small a creature to assert that.

Tim Ferguson

Nancy,

Most of the "treasures" - the artwork, the chalices, the buildings - of the Church were donated to the Church and set aside for sacred purposes. The Church HAS to honor the intentions of the donors - a fundamental principle in law. Let's say that I, in a fit of devotion, give the Church a golden chalice once owned by my great-great uncle, a priest. I give it to my parish and stipulate that I would like them to use it for Christmas and Easter Mass every year. The parish has the right to refuse the gift, of course, but once they agree and accept the gift, they are also agreeing to the stipulations. It's not right for them to say, ten years down the road, "Well, we really should melt this chalice down and use the gold to feed the poor or pay the victims of sexual abuse." They don't have that right to break the faith they had with me in my donation. Now, if the chalice I donated breaks, or the parish burns down or is closed, for whatever reason, then the object of my donation is no longer there, which leaves the Church with a quandary - but the solution to that quandary should always begin with the statement, "First, we must try to respect the wishes of the donors." I gave that chalice to be used in the worship of God. That chalice can't be used for any other purpose without the Church violating my fundamental rights. It's easy to look at the gilt of the Church and say, "all this should be sold and given to the poor," just like Judas did. But there's something more fundamental at stake here.
You ask when the Church of Christ became an art collector (and I feel sorry for those who think of it as merely art). The Church of Christ first became an art collector when one of the earliest Christians, who had nothing other than artistic talent to offer, offered to the Church a drawing, a sculpture, a vessel for Mass and said, "I'd like to give this to God, so that others may know what He means to me." If the apostles had taken that and said, "Hey thanks, we can sell this at the market and make some serious coin," they would be reprehensible.
How much money, precisely, will it take to undo the damage done to those victims of sexual abuse? When a price of human pain can be determined, then we might be able to talk about readjusting the patrimony of the Church. I for one, hope that human pain, like human artistic achievement in praise of God is always considered to be beyond price.

DarwinCatholic

Very little money is needed, really, in the grand scheme of things. Certainly not enough to prompt successors of the Apostles to slink about through back doors to evade service of process to protect it.

But no one, no matter how stupid, could possibly imagine that "slinking about" would actually save the church any money. So why assert that it is a motive in this case? We don't know in the first place that Levada has been avoiding anyone. It's possible that when he was accosted before mass this was the first that he heard. Maybe the process server didn't bother to call his office in the first place, or spoke to the switchboard, was hung up on, and never bothered calling back. We don't know, so talking about Levada putting too much weight on the Church's riches is kind of silly.

However, the deeper thing that has me wondering (and my problem with these lawsuits in general) is that I'm not clear why the money will do the victims any more good than the Church. Now, I certainly want to see heavy justice done upon anyone responsible for committing abuse. And I can see the point of a lawsuit in certain circumstances in order to pay for specific medical or counseling costs on the part of victims. However, in this area as in any other (injury, malpractice, etc.) I'm deeply troubled by the idea of punitive damages. Certainly it's true that bankrupting the church should not be too high a price to pay if it could actually right the wrongs done. But it can't. Further, having everyone sue for huge punative damages probably makes the victim's plight harder in the sense that the diocese must (as a basic matter of prudence) examine large claims much more closely. And given that many of these are "he said, he said" cases, that amounts to fighting victims harder in court.

Crocodylus Pontifex

To be sure, there are some legitimate claimants who were truly and tragically abused. However, some of the participants in this whole matter were not actually abused, and they are involved only because of their hate for the Church.

I wouldn't mind seeing some evidence for this statement, Croc. Especially about the people involved because of their "hate for the Church." These people would be who exactly? And you would know their motives how exactly? Or are you just making noise?

No, its not up to me to provide the evidence that not every single claimant is acting in good faith. The burden of proof is on the plaintiff. Besides, I had my say, and I'm not one to monopolize this blog, treating it as my own personal Instant Messenger, sending out new missives every five minutes.

Crocodylus, what's Satanic about telling the truth?

It is an article of faith that Satan and other evil spirits prowl about the world seeking the ruin of souls. We already know that Satan hates and seeks to destroy the Church. You avoided the question, so I'll repeat it -- Do you really think that Satan is going to sit this one out? or is it reasonable to conclude that he is actively participating in attacking the Church?

Ronny

Don't forget that part of the cost of "justice" in these cases is paying 33% contingency fees plus expenses on multimillion dollar settlements or judgments to attorneys representing the plaintiffs. If St. Patrick's Cathedral ever has to be sold in order to cover payments to victims, be comforted by thinking of how many nice new cars for those righteous lawyers can be purchased for a third of its value.

David Kubiak

I wonder why I can't get upset over this. Given what the bishops of this country have allowed to happen I think some kind of public embarrassment is entirely appropriate. Some are lucky they are not in jail.

Bubbles

It may be that Crocodylus is partly right in that Satan is using this situation to attack the church. However, I think it far more likely that he is not using plaintiffs and their lawyers but rather, a significant number of American Bishops. Disagree? Ask yourself this question: who's done the most to damage the Church in the US? Plaintiff's and their lawyers, or Bishops?

duh.

On a side note, I still find it fascinating how before he was selected for the CDF, Levada was regarded with disdain if not contempt by most of the Catholic blogs I read. But he gets tapped by B16 and suddenly he's just the greatest guy ever! Honest! I mean it! Golly! Were we wrong! He's just great! Really!

feh.

reluctant penitent

"nonCatholics don't get the sublimity of the Mass"

Have you seen St. Mary's Cathedral? No one who enters it would get an impression that there is something sublime about the Mass.

If Nancy is any indicator of the average SF-an's views, this media stunt was just an excuse to beat up on the Church and embarass BXVI.

Ronny

Given what the bishops of this country have allowed to happen I think some kind of public embarrassment is entirely appropriate.

Really -- every single one of them, without consideration of how any particular bishop has conducted himself and his diocese throughout all of this?

Ronny

But he gets tapped by B16 and suddenly he's just the greatest guy ever!

I don't know what Catholic blogs you read, but the ones I saw showed plenty of mixed reviews in the comments.

Besides, your point is not really germaine. I don't recall any poster above vouching for what a great guy Levada is, though I have seen at one person who is inclined to dislike him. Before the tangents began, the rest seemed to be focusing on whether the particular incident described in the article was called for. It is possible to think not and still not care all that much for Levada.

David

Nancy, if you used half of energy which you use in attacking hierarchy of the Church, you used it for the evangelitation, the half of the world would be Christian, whichever time to the day you use to attack the bishops?.
Please see this forum!!.

Nancy

Bubbles is right on here. Also David Kubiak.

That's right, Ronny, beat up on the lawyers. That's OK, lawyers are used to it. Whenever anything whatever goes in some way that someone doesn't like, it must be the lawyers who are to blame.

Lawyers have families to support too. One of the reasons Stephanie Collopy (of late fame in her dispute with the Redemptorists) could not mount a defense to equal the Reds was that she had no money, and not enough money was involved for her to get representation. (I am not admitted to practice in Oregon, or I would have represented her for free.) There was a presumably well-paid lawyer there for the Order, however, who argued that the proceedings should be sealed so that her clients' shame should not be exposed in the LA Times. (Secret, secret, let's keep it secret.) You're not outraged by this lawyer's fees? And why not?

Lawyers who sue the Church need to be paid too. I'll remind you, they only get paid if they win - that is, if they convince a judge or a jury that the claimed abuse really happened - or if the possibility of being exposed in public scares these men into a settlement. If they really are innocent, let them stand and deliver.

But of course in so many cases they are anything but innocent.

(Wow, David, really? And how could I do that?? I'd be delighted!)

Maria Mancini

I think serving the subpoena just before the Mass was unfortunate and "smarty-pants". With some effort this could have been handled differently - just more evidence of a world that now plays to the TV cameras and news.
All other facts of the case aside, what's the problem with expecting the woman to bear at least half of the responsibility for birh contgrol if a couple is going to have unprotected sex? (And I am certainly not condoning what they did - I strongly disapprove) Both partners equally share in the decision and the consequences - unless someone is suggesting that she is or was impaired or that the seminarian forced himself on her then thats another matter I guess. Come on ladies - rights also come with responsibilities! Equal cuts both ways.

Lee Penn

In 2000, Fr. Neuhaus posted some new definitions, as sent to him by a Jesuit teaching in Rome.

http://www.leaderu.com/ftissues/ft0010/public.html

Quote:

"Ultramontanist: Priest who wears clerical garb even when not en route to his arraignment."

and

"Detraction: The sin of telling the truth about the lies told by a bishop."

Neuhaus' source is right-wing, so he offers this pair of definitions:

"Prophet: One who exposes the misbehavior of conservatives.

Scandalmonger: One who exposes the misbehavior of liberals."

As we know now, almost 5 years later, many conservatives define a prophet as one who exposes the misbehavior of liberals (+Mahony, +Weakland, et. al.) and a scandalmonger as one who exposes the misbehavior of conservatives (i.e., Maciel). No one likes to see their own oxen gored.

I believe that Levada deserved to get "served" as he did. Such is the due reward for the way that he makes himself hard to find. Anyone who visits the chancery offices here will know what I refer to.

Visualize liturgical orange!

Lee

Tan2Day

Well, Bishop Marchinkus, head of the Vatican Bank, wanted for questioning, hid out in the Vatican for YEARS, avoiding the law.

And the Dallas Morning News, ran a series about all the priests on the lamb from the law, hiding out in Rome, one step ahead of perusing authorities.

Once Levada is sworn in, he gets a Vatican Passport, and can claim diplomatic immunity.

It isn't like this is unpresedented.

Right now, the Vatican is being sued in California over the looted gold the Ustazi parked in the Vatican bank, they, naturally are claiming that as a sovereign nation/state, they are immune from prosecution.

Nancy

Darwin, a serious question. Will money do the plaintiffs any good?

Well, it will pay for therapy. That's important. People who have suffered assaults as children often suffer the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for many years. Therapy is very helpful, but also quite expensive. There is lost income, and untold suffering, which some people here are quite ready to discount. Luckily the courts in this country have more compassion.

I'm often quite astonished at the degree of destruction which results from such assaults. I bite my tongue before saying, "Get over it," because I don't know, myself, and I know, from knowing many such people, that no one just "gets over it." Lives are ruined. Believe it.

This is a terrible, terrible thing. Would I be willing to sell my house to pay for it? If I had done it, I wouldn't have any choice. We feel, here in the Anglo-Saxon law, that people should pay for the damage they do culpably, whatever. Between the Church, which enabled and protected the criminal, and the victim, who was 6 or 7 or 8 years old, the choice is clear about who should bear the burden of the damage.

I just plain don't understand the opposite position. These people should not be compensated...because? Because they had to hire lawyers to get satisfaction? (And that was why? Because the bishops wouldn't offer adequate settlements without being threatened, that's why.) Because we like our fine buildings? Because I'm fond of St. Pat's? Because the Church has been an art collector for 1500 years? Because we didn't give money to the Church contemplating this situation? (Bad judgment us.) Because we can't worship God without fine buildings? (???)

Not everyone who alleges that he/she was molested by a priest actually was so molested. That's what we have courts for - to sort out the difference. Not perfect, I'll admit, but it's what we have.

Untold people, however, were molested. And it's OK with you-all that these people not be compensated? And that would be why again?

David

Nancy, come here in Europe, we need your energy!!

Nancy

I'd love to, David! I have a daughter in the UK, and travel often on the Continent, and Europe is in at least as much trouble as we're in, which is saying a lot. (!!)

I grieve to tour dead monasteries and empty churches in Europe! May the Holy Spirit enliven us all!!

Nancy

I'm angry because I see the message. The Good News.

The most profound news about the universe is the Trinity: that the essence of God is total, self-giving love. If that isn't Good News, I don't know what is.

But more. That this Love became a human being, and in the darkness of the darkness of sin that we had created for ourselves, the very pit, He showed that utter, self-giving love. And so redeemed us.

And so no one need be afraid, and no one despair, because the fundamental Power behind the universe, and ourselves, and everything we see and experience, is the Love of Christ.

When I see finely-clad (first alarm!! call out the reserves!) men who profess themselves to be representatives of this Love, and who rape the helpless or who enable rapists, I become angry, because they cloud the Light for the people who need it most. And for all of us.

And everyone else is worried about whether we might have to sell a fine building in New York??

Ronny

There is no need to lecture to me about how lawyers and fees work, Nancy. I worked in a multi-office law firm with several hundred attorneys in a large city for three years, one that was in the AmLaw 200 for my first two years there and was in the AmLaw 100 for my last. Needless to say, I'm sure that the partners were not hurting for cash there.

I have no doubt that the diocesan attorneys exact their pound of flesh from the diocese, too. What the justice or injustice of the amount that they charge for a billable hour has to do has to do with being outraged or not being outraged at the use of a particular legal tactic is not immediately clear to me.

I certainly do not think that lawyers created the problems facing the Church right now. I also don't see anything in my post suggesting that I do.

My point piggybacks upon the other comments about the what exactly equals justice. I gather, perhaps incorrectly, from what you write above that any damage award against the Church is a just one for the wrong committed. Some, myself included, call that into question (mind you, I have had qualms about very large damage awards in cases that have absolutely nothing to do with the Church either). Frankly, I'd be happy with incarceration of bishops as accomplices who knowingly allowed crimes to be committed under their watch and even can understand some level of fines and compensation of victims.

What I will not do, however, is assume that just because a court awards x million dollars to y proven or alleged victims that justice has been served. Moreover, while I agree that any attorney should be fairly compensated for work done, I will not grant you that just because some attorney took a chance by accepting a case on contingency that he or she deserves a 35% cut of a multi-million dollar windfall.

By the way, since you are an attorney, I don't need to explain to you that not every settlement is the result of fear of public exposure. You are well aware, I am sure, that sometimes clients choose to settle a case for other reasons -- including the prospect of having to pay attorneys for several years while a civil suit drags on.

Ronny

When I see finely-clad (first alarm!! call out the reserves!) men who profess themselves to be representatives of this Love, and who rape the helpless or who enable rapists, I become angry, because they cloud the Light for the people who need it most. And for all of us.

And everyone else is worried about whether we might have to sell a fine building in New York??

You've played this card multiple times, Nancy, and have been called on it. It's getting old. Other people are angry about the situation, too. Just because they don't think about it in the same terms as you does not mean that they aren't.

Tim Ferguson

Nancy, again, a distinction needs to be made when you talk about the "property of the Church." Let's say you're the Church. I give you $100,000 to take care of my mother. You accept. Two years from now, you crash into someone's car. Can you dip into the $100,000 I gave you in trust for my mother to pay the damages you owe?
Translate that: I give Abp. Levada $100,000 to build a chapel for sailors in Hunters Point. He accepts. Two years from now, someone sues the archdiocese because one of the priests molested him. Why is it fair and right that he should sell off the chapel built through my donation, intended for the spiritual well-being of the sailors?
Now I agree wholeheartedly with you that the personal wealth of some priests and bishops is a scandal. But can't you at least see that "the wealth of the Church" is not all there just to provide a slush fund for mismanaging bishops to pay off the victims of their misdeeds?

Nancy

Ronny,

No attorney in his or her senses would assert that our legal system delivers justice in every single case, and if I have ever asserted that I recant! recant!!

However. This is what we have. If you have suggestions about a better way to run the legal system, we're all ears over here. Everything we have is subject to change by lawmakers, who are elected by the people. Nothing is set in stone. If you have a system in mind which will deliver justice more reliably, I cannot urge you more urgently to communicate this with your representatives, and/or run for office yourself. We need all the help we can get.

Until your brilliant ideas are enacted into law, we work fallibly with what we have. I would remind you that if the bishops had behaved as they should have, as men of God (or even as reasonably decent ordinary men). we would not have any of these problems.

The incarceration of bishops might be much more effective than punitive damage awards, I'm with you there, since the aim of punitive damages is to awaken the perpetrators and their peers, and I think myself that seeing a bishop or two behind bars might operate as a far more effective deterrent than any money sum. My own opinion only.

Nancy

Tim, and now I'm speaking as a lawyer...

If you or I give money to the Church (or any other person) for any particular purpose, just saying that, no more, then that money is accessible to the general creditors of the recipient. It is only if the money is formally set aside in a trust, and then a VERY carefully drawn one, that creditors cannot reach the money.

You are not the first person to think of this. Priests are thinking. The traditional way of funding priests' retirement funds, without going into a lot of tiresome detail, is by a device which remains accessible to the general creditors of the diocese. Now there is a trend to convert these retirement funds into vehicles which are not so accessible, because the priests can read the writing on the wall.

Is this legal situation right? In the grand scheme of things? I have no idea. It can be argued both ways.

Don't give the parish or the diocese money if you don't want it used - potentially - to pay their legal damages or their lawyers. That's the fact of the matter.

Nancy

Can you state your position, Ronny, in a simpler form? I can't figure out what you're saying, quite probably because of my limited intelligence. (No! Really! Not everyone who passes the California Bar exam is a genius!!)

Your postion is:

1. Victims of sexual abuse by priests should not be financially compensated at all, or

2. Victims should be compensated, but in a limited amount (and the limits would be what exactly?) or

3. Victims should be compensated, but not to the extent that Church real estate (some Church real estate? and which, and determined how?) should be sold, or

4. Victims should be compensated, but lawyers should not be paid (all lawyers? victims' lawyers only, or diocese lawyers too?), or

5. Victims should not be compensated because I keep bringing this problem up, or,

6. What?

HA

"An archbishop who is capable of blaming a woman who slept with his seminarian for the resultant pregnancy because she didn't use birth control is undoubtedly capable of any manner of behavior."

"If you have some "alternate truth" to oppose to this "worse truth" I'd be interested in hearing it, and in reading your justification."

Yes, Nancy we do. Amy opened a thread the follow-up article (which you posted to) in which the lawyer who wrote the statement in question and another HR rep both say it is doubtful that Levada even read the statements - something that Septimus and others already stated as the likely explanation in the very first thread on the case you referred to. And yet, after all that, you kept at it again, arguing about what must have been in Levada's head, whether he was sorry or not, etc.

Your tactics, when someone calls you on them, are becoming routine: you backtrack, or change the subject, or ask people to pray for your soul or whatnot, but then it's back to business as usual. I have no idea whether Levada is guilty or innocent of what he's being accused of, and I think in the grand scheme of things, where he gets served is small potatoes. However, if the tactics you've demonstrated here are the norm among the bishops' detractors, then they should all be seeing a smooth ride ahead. Both the innocent ones, and the guilty.

HA

Right now, the Vatican is being sued in California over the looted gold the Ustazi parked in the Vatican bank, they, naturally are claiming that as a sovereign nation/state, they are immune from prosecution.

Ah yes, Godwin's Law in action - our first Nazi accusation. And BTW, the Ustazi spelling is a new one. Try Ustashe or Ustachi. In any case, file this under the claim that Pius XII was a jackbooted Jew-killer. Things are looking real good for that canard recently.

I mean, Pius XII had to be guilty, right? All those accusations from so many people - there's just no way he could be remotely innocent. Where there's smoke, there's firea, eh? Isn't that the way things work here?

julian

I do hope Archbishop Levada uses this opportunity to go for full openness and transparency. Even the lawyers must know, by this point, that any obfuscation ends badly. If Levada had nothing to do with the business, or, at least, no criminal culpability, then he should be thrilled to prove that he is an innocent.

I, as I think about it, do not see the problem. This, despite slightly poor timing, is nothing less than an opportunity for a seemingly good man to strike back at those who seek to attack the Church. If the Beast is indeed at work here, what more crushing defeat could man inflict than a public humiliation through episcopal transparency?

Archbishop Levada has the opportunity to set a great example for how to take the power away from the needle-tongued critics of the Church. I hope he takes it.

reluctant penitent

The Nazi gold must be stored right next to the Jerusalem Temple Menorah. (http://www.shmais.com/printnews.cfm?ID=12747)

HA, your link does not work.

Nancy

HA

the lawyer who wrote the statement in question and another HR rep both say it is doubtful that Levada even read the statements

Perhaps Levada didn't read the statements issued in a court of law on behalf of himself. How would I know?

Being as charitable as possible...he didnt' read it. He didn't even know.

HA, does this suggest to you just a hint of administrative inability? That the head guy wouldn't even bother to read pleadings submitted in his behalf, pleadings which denied Roman Catholic doctrine in a particularly cynical way, documents to be submitted in a court of law, public record? At best? And this qualifies him for a higher administrative position why?

In charity to the good Archbishop, I'd rather assume that he knew what the heck was going on.

HA

All right, Nancy, given that you're fond of lists, can you enumerate for us which due process rights would you have priests and bishops forfeit? Presumption of innocence is obviously top of the list, given your other posts, but what else? The right to hire the best lawyer they can? The right to grill an accuser till the judge says stop? The right to resort to invoke statutes of limitations? Whatever you choose, make sure it adversely affects only the guilty, and leaves the innocent to go free. Unless you want a separate kangaroo court for those you assume beforehand have to be guilty. Because that's the message you're sending.

I said this before, but I'll repeat it: to all those disgusted by priests and bishops hiring lawyers who stonewall, threaten counter-suits, do their utmost to make the accusers seem like liars and sluts (even when they’re women and children) and use all the tricks up their sleeve to get their client off the hook or at least mitigate their liabilities – hey, welcome to the adversarial court system. Perhaps this has something to do with St. Paul’s plea that courts be not used to settle this kind of matter. As it is, those who opt for trials should know that legal rights in this country are not supposed to be predicated on whether someone is wearing a collar or mitre (or yarmulke or turban for that matter). God forbid any one of you or your loved ones should be accused of some horrible crime, but if it happens, make sure your lawyer is willing to work the same shenanigans for you – if not, I suggest you dump him and find yourself another one.

Nancy

I do hope Archbishop Levada uses this opportunity to go for full openness and transparency. Even the lawyers must know, by this point, that any obfuscation ends badly. If Levada had nothing to do with the business, or, at least, no criminal culpability, then he should be thrilled to prove that he is an innocent.

GO, Levada, by me!! If he can defend his position, then, let him defend it, and we will all be relieved! I'm all for it!! No more sneaking through back doors, no more accusing the victims of complicity. Let it all hang out!

clarence

No more sneaking through back doors

Again with the back door fascination. No one in this thread has produced any evidence that Abp. Levada was evading the process server. And yet you continue to treat as fact the supposition that he was sneaking ou the back door of his office.

julian

Victim is a bit of a loaded term. At the moment, they're accusers. Let us always keep that in mind. Just because emotions run high, that doesn't mean that one can abrogate the judicial system. In all child molestation cases, I see a rush to convict before court is called to order. Innocence until guilt is proven is still the custom of the land.

Each priest accused should want a fair and open trial if they are not guilty, and should be brought before the law if they are guilty. Trials can be intimidating, but one must have faith that justice - palatable or not - will be done.

Nancy

All right, Nancy, given that you're fond of lists, can you enumerate for us which due process rights would you have priests and bishops forfeit? Presumption of innocence is obviously top of the list, given your other posts, but what else? The right to hire the best lawyer they can? The right to grill an accuser till the judge says stop? The right to resort to invoke statutes of limitations? Whatever you choose, make sure it adversely affects only the guilty, and leaves the innocent to go free. Unless you want a separate kangaroo court for those you assume beforehand have to be guilty. Because that's the message you're sending.

Given - and it is a given - that the bishops are unwilling/unable to behave as shepherds of their flocks, then I say, bring it on!

There is a rule in moral theology to the tune that, if you will not or cannot be subject to a higher law, then you will find yourself subject to a lower law. Thus, if you will not subject yourself to the higher law (prudence) when walking on an icy sidewalk, you will find yourself, whether you want it or not, to be subject to a lower law (gravity).

Given - and sadly, this is a given - that the bishops will not subject themselves to the higher law of their calling as shepherds of the sheep of Christ - then they find themselves in the clutches of a lower law, the secular law of the United States.

So, now we are down in the pit. Bishops sneak around through back doors to evade service of process...process servers confront them right before the Holy Sacrifice. And so forth.

As St. Paul points out, we shouldn't be at this level in the first place. But this was not the choice of the victims.

HA

In charity to the good Archbishop, I'd rather assume that he knew what the heck was going on.

Oh yeah, you're just oozing charity on behalf of Levada tonight. We get that. You find it hard to believe that Levada did not fully vet a legal document based on the (very plausible) claim that this particular matter had nothing to do with the diocese to begin with. By all means, let's find the nearest tree and hang the man.

And as for the statement about contraception, the lawyer who wrote the statement also said that as he recalls it, he made it not to blame the woman because she didn't use contraception - his allegation was that the woman intentionally got pregnant so as to encourage the priest to stay with her. You may find it scandalous that a lawyer for the diocese would make such an accusation, but given that you have a personal pipeline into the minds of people like Levada, perhaps this lawyer is gifted with the same intuition.

But again, if lawyers can't make such claims when the defendant is a priest or bishop, how will you account for those cases in which priests happen to be innocent? Granted, by your calculus such instances must be inifinitesimally small, but indulge me.

Nancy

clarence,

If you are correct, and if Levada knew of the impending service of process (and intelligence prohibits the assumption that he didn't), then he could have short-circuited this whole business by making himself available earlier, as detailed above.

Nancy

HA,

A piece of advice. A freebie. Read stuff before it goes out in your name. OK?

I'd appreciate a quotation from the pleadings, or from any other source, which alleges that Levada alleges that Stephanie got pregnant so as to encourage the priest to stay with her. Or any other evidence to this point.

However, in secular law, irrelevant. The secular law doesn't try to ascertain who was "at fault" for the creation of a child. It just wants the parents to provide support.

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