Saturday, January 09, 2016

Catholic Church Spent Millions on Predatory Priests

I try not to do more that one post per day on a particular subject, but some days it is just too difficult to do.  Today, in follow to the abuse scandal involving former Pope Benedict's brother, The Age, Melbourne, Australia's largest newspaper, has a piece that spotlights the misplaced priorities of the Church hierarchy, which has fought tooth and claw to avoid paying victims of sexual abuse, yet spent millions on pensions and benefits for the very priests that molested children and youth.  Here are article highlights:
The Catholic Church has spent millions of dollars providing pensions, housing, and private medical insurance to convicted paedophile priests despite branding them "evil" and having most defrocked.

The Melbourne archdiocese alone is still financially supporting six former priests who have been convicted for committing sex crimes against children.

Parishioners have unwittingly been partly funding the assistance through their donations into church collection plates, which they believed went towards the local church or  fundraising for retired priests.

Church records show two of the paedophiles, priests Wilfred Baker and David Daniel, received hundreds of thousands of dollars alone in annual pensions and entitlements.  Their victims received one-off payments of $31,000 to $37,000 under the church's Melbourne Response redress scheme.

The decision to continue financially supporting disgraced priests was made by senior church figures in Melbourne and the top advisory council at the Vatican, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, according to documents tendered to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Nine other priests have received pensions, housing stipends or private health insurance after their convictions and until their deaths. Many of them had also been defrocked.

Among those who received lifetime assistance was Father Wilfred "Bill" Baker, who molested at least 21 children.  The church had received complaints about him as early as 1978. He pleaded guilty to to 16 counts of indecent assault and 1 count of gross indecency in 1999.
The year before, Baker had been allowed to "retire",  a euphemism the church regularly used for priests who were stood down over sex abuse allegations.

In contrast, Baker's victims received an average one-off compensation payment of just $31,000 under the Melbourne Response.
Father Desmond Gannon was convicted of sex crimes on five separate occasions over the past two decades – in 1995, 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2009 – and the church cared for him up until his death.[C]utting them off completely was never considered an option.

"It's horrific to think they offered Emma only $50,000 as way to move forward over the rest of her life, yet the church was willing to support a priest they knew was convicted and deserved nothing else than to have to go out into society and fend for himself once he was out of prison," Mr Foster told The Sunday Age.
The church has declined to comment on the total cost of supporting the 15 priests that have been convicted of child sex crimes or 15 other priests who have been identified as abusers but were never convicted in a criminal court.

The figure is likely to be at least several million dollars in total based on known payments to a number of the priests.

As I have noted before, the moral bankruptcy of the Church hierarchy is complete.  Decent, honest, parishioners need to cease financial support to the Church immediately until the hierarchy it priorities in order.

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