I was the Mayor of Fargo for 16 years. This was while being a professor of economics and NDSU. Later I became active in the Red River Freethinkers. While I no longer live in Fargo-Moorhead the focus of my blog remains there.


Can the Catholic Church Regain Trust


The most poignant piece I have read about sexual abuse among Catholic clergy was written recently by a devout and practicing Catholic writer. He is a father of three children, attends mass in Brooklyn and grew up in the churches which have produced abusers. It appeared in The New Yorker.
The article explains the new approach taken by Arch Bishop Tim Dolan in the New York Diocese. This approach is to farm out settlement of abuse accusations to a third party paid by the Diocese. The firm hired was the same one that made payments to survivors of the 9/11 attack.
This move has some advantages to both victims and the Diocese. Some victims will receive payments even though the statue of limitations has times them out. The statue of limitations may be lifted for abuse victims but no one can be sure he/she will receive justice for harm committed long ago. Those who receive compensation must agree not to pursue the Diocese in court so it benefits by taking some allegations off the table.
The writer asked Dolan where the money would come from for the settlements. Dolan casually said some of their vast real estate holding would be posted as collateral and money would be borrowed against them.
An even bigger benefit to the Diocese is that it will not have to reveal publicly what took place during the incidents. Tamping down bad publicity was the reason criminal priests were moved around, why quiet payments were made over the years and why much bigger ones will be made quietly with the new arrangement.
It is the secret nature of the new arrangement that bothers the writer. It is obvious today secrecy was a main ingredient in the past violations. There can be no doubt, he adds, there is a secret life among abusers, among priests with women companions and among gay priests.
The writer's conclusion is the large amount of secrecy within the ranks of Catholic clergy is the root of its problems. He sees no evidence that problem will be solved even after all the current payments to victims has been made.

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