Ethics & Religion
May 7, 2020
Should Catholic Priests Be Allowed to Marry?
By Mike McManus
More than 7,000 Catholic priests have been "credibly" accused of
molesting more than 20,000 minors from 1950 through 2018, according to
the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Virtually none have served prison terms.
What's more, a Bloomberg Businessweek review of court filings by lawyers
for churches and victims in the past 15 years shows that the U.S.
Catholic Church has shielded $2 billion in assets from abuse victims via
"The survivors should have gotten that money, and they didn't" says
Terry McKiernan, president of
A priest raped a 7-year-old girl while visiting her in the hospital
after she had her tonsils removed. Another priest forced a 9-year-old
boy into having oral sex, then rinsed out the youngster's mouth with
holy water. One boy was forced to say Confession to the priest who
sexually abused him.
My question for Catholics is simple: Wouldn't it be better to allow
priests to marry?
Why not end priestly celibacy which is an invitation to pedophiles to
become Catholic priests who can use the respected cover of priesthood to
secretly molest innocent children?
There are NO charges that pastors of Baptist, Methodist or
Congregational churches have molested children. Their sexual drive is
satisfied by the wives they marry.
More dioceses are filing for bankruptcy now that the rules are changing
on how much time a victim has to sue over abuse. Seven states and the
District of Columbia passed laws in 2019 that suspend the statute of
limitations on civil sex abuse suits. Known as "window statutes" they
have become popular.
Window statutes caused churches to declare bankruptcy in San Diego,
Wilmington, Del. and cities throughout Minnesota.
After New York State's law went into effect in August, almost 430 sex
abuse victims immediately filed lawsuits, mostly against dioceses. The
diocese of Rochester, NY declared bankruptcy in September.
In many cases, churches precede bankruptcy by transferring and
reclassifying assets. The effect is to shrink the pot of money available
to clergy abuse victims. A Bloomberg Businessweek review of court
filings by lawyers for churches and victims in the past 15 years shows
that the U.S. Catholic Church has shielded more than $2 billion in
assets from abuse victims in bankruptcies using these methods.
In the Diocese of Santa Fe, the business managers of 90 parishes in
northern New Mexico gathered in 2012 to hear the archdiocese explain how
to incorporate their parishes separate from the archdiocese. "We got
step-by-step instructions," says Christine Romero then the office
manager of St. Anne parish in Santa Fe.
The legal change let the archdiocese assert that each parish was a
distinct organization that owned its own property. . At the time, church
leaders created the Archdiocese of Santa Fe Real Estate Corp. and began
transferring hundreds of properties into it. It allowed the Archdiocese
to take about $91 million off its books.
Ms. Romero asked how this would affect the parishes, and was told it
would not change day-to-day operations. "It's just to protect us from
the pedophile law suits." By incorporating parishes, the archdiocese was
able to take $91 million off its books.
James Stang, lawyer for the alleged clergy abuse victims in the
bankruptcy, charged that the transfers were made with the intent to
"hinder, delay or defraud" the claimants.
Church officials then put $37 million in cash and investments into a
Wells Fargo account. Presumably, it will be later used to pay victims.
America's largest bankruptcy settlement is of the Archdiocese of St.
Paul and Minneapolis in 2018 which said it did not own the parishes, the
schools or the 10 cemeteries within its territory. "They took a
paintbrush and went to every cemetery and painted over the name
"Archdiocese of St. Paul Minneapolis," charged Jeff Anderson, a lawyer
representing abuse victims.
The Archdiocese claimed to own assets worth less than $50 million, while
lawyers for victims said the number was closer to $1.7 billion. The
result: some 450 victims got a total of $210 million - an average of
$467,000 each! That's a very substantial sum. Some of it came from
church assets and some from insurance.
In Milwaukee a similar battle resulted in 350 victims being paid $60,000
Hector Balderas, New Mexico's attorney general, is disturbed about the
archdiocese's history of paying off victims and making them sign
non-disclosure agreements to stay silent.
Fortunately, the victims finally won significant cash awards.
However, the larger issue is whether the Catholic Church should change
its celibacy rule to allow priests to marry. In time, that would end the
plague of pedophile priests.
Copyright (c) 2020 Michael J. McManus, President of Marriage Savers and
a syndicated columnist. To read past columns, go to
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