- Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not money, I am become as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not money, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not money, it profiteth me nothing. Money suffereth long, and is kind; money envieth not; money vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. . . . And now abideth faith, hope, money, these three; but the greatest of these is money.
~ I Corinthians xiii (adapted)
REPORTER: But the victims’ report card for the Melbourne and Jesuit procedures suggests there’s little of value to learn. Both have lawyers as gatekeepers, and if anything are more hard-nosed than Towards Healing. No-one from the Archdiocese or the Jesuits would speak with us. A disturbing example of how many in the church still respond to allegations of sexual abuse occurred in a recent Brisbane court case in which a priest was charged with raping a teenage girl. In sentencing him, the judge lashed out at the Catholic Church and in particular one of its bishops. The judge accused them of blinding hypocrisy and corruption.
REPORTER: In September, Judge Warren Howell sentenced 83-year-old Father Reg Durham to jail for raping a 14-year-old girl at the Neerkol Orphanage in 1966. The judge condemned the church’s response to the woman’s complaint when it finally emerged three years ago.
JUDGE’S COMMENTS READ: The reprehensible attitude of the church to date in trying to squash the complaint and to cover it up, does not bode well for an honest, compassionate and meaningful approach by the church in the future to go some way to compensating her.
~ Bad Habits: Sex and the Catholic Church, Sunday, November 21, 1999 (Reporter: Paul Ransley)
In response to scores of claims by abused children formerly in their care, Jesuits in the northwestern United States have filed for bankruptcy (see below). The province of the Roman Catholic order listed assets of less than $5 million and liabilities of almost $62 million; an attorney representing Native American victims said he believes the Oregon Jesuit province has assets of “more than a billion dollars.”
Man files abuse suit against Chicago Jesuits
February 23, 2009
A 32-year-old California man claimed he was yet another victim of sexual abuse by defrocked priest Donald McGuire in a lawsuit filed today against the Chicago Order of Jesuits.
The suit, filed in Cook County Circuit Court under the name “John Doe 130,” says that McGuire repeatedly abused the plaintiff in the early 1990s, when the man was as young as 14. The abuse took place in Evanston, California and other locations on retreats organized by McGuire.
The plaintiff was unaware of Jesuit efforts to hide McGuire’s prior abuse of children until recently, the suit said. McGuire has been convicted on sex charges in Wisconsin and Illinois, and he was sentenced to 25 years in prison by a federal judge in Chicago earlier this month.
In a recent address — to the Caritas Parliamentary Luncheon at Parliament House, Sydney on February 23 — Frank Brennan (‘The Meddling Priest’) stated: “We are most truly Australian, most truly Christian, and most truly Catholic when we reach out across borders of nation states and churches, opening our hands and reaching out, deep, giving of ourselves whatever we are able” (People of hope, not hate, Eureka Street, February 24, 2009).
According to the blog justice4luke, in Melbourne, Jesuit Social Services last year sacked one of its youth workers, a union and prize-winning OH&S delegate, allegedly as a result of his activism. Despite being a public voice of opposition to HoWARd’s WorkChoices legislation, JSS happily employed this same legislation against both the sacked worker and a number of its other workers — the first time such legislation had been used in the ‘social and community sector’. (Such action presumably in keeping with their as-yet unreleased policy document ‘Towards a more business friendly Victoria’.)
Next month, on Saturday March 28, JSS is holding its annual fundraising dinner (tickets $150 per head), at which numerous local Catholic worthies will be in attendance. The featured speaker is Waleed Aly. In May 2007, Aly wrote with passion and humility:
…that language can be manipulated to prevent us from thinking outside orthodoxy [“was the very premise of Orwell’s Newspeak“.] Words are politics. The Federal Government called its industrial relations laws “Work Choices”. Such choices as it provides are, of course, far from universally available. For this reason it is unpopular, and the term has acquired a negative electoral meaning. Now staff at the relevant department refer not to “Work Choices” but more blandly to “workplace relations”. The latter phrase simply washes over us, leaving minimal residue. These are words that convey nothing, and numb us into acquiescence. Rudyard Kipling was indeed correct to describe words as “the most powerful drug used by mankind”. But not all drugs entrance us. Some are sedatives. They are designed to render us dead to reality. ~ Writing with passion and humility, The Age, May 26, 2007
Of course, Orwell’s own writing was motivated by his confrontations with the reality of the poor, The Condition of the Working Class in England, France, and later Spain, where his passion for socialism was confirmed.
Northwest Jesuits file for bankruptcy protection
February 8, 2009
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Confronted by scores of lawsuits alleging sex abuse by priests, the Jesuits of the Oregon Province have filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
The petition was filed Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Portland. The province of the Roman Catholic order listed assets of less than $5 million and liabilities of almost $62 million.
“Our decision to file Chapter 11 was not an easy one, but with approximately 200 additional claims pending or threatened, it is the only way we believe that all claimants can be offered a fair financial settlement within the limited resources of the Province,” The Rev. Patrick J. Lee, the current provincial, said in a statement late Tuesday.
The religious order — officially The Society of Jesus — has 10 provinces in the United States. The Oregon Province covers Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Idaho and Montana.
Many of the lawsuits involve Alaska Natives who say they were sexually abused as children while living in remote villages.
Ken Roosa, an Anchorage-based attorney who has filed claims on behalf of more than 60 Alaska Natives, said Tuesday night the Oregon Province is vastly underestimating its assets. Roosa said he believes the Oregon Jesuit province has assets of “more than a billion dollars.”
The Portland-based province contends it has worked “diligently” to resolve claims of misconduct, saying it has settled more than 200 claims and paid more than $25 million to victims since 2001. That amount does not include payments made by insurers.
“Our hope is that by filing Chapter 11, we can begin to bring this sad chapter in our Province’s history to an end,” Lee said. “We continue to pray for all those who have been hurt by the actions of a few men, so that they can receive the healing and reconciliation that they deserve.”
Here are some more facts.
Each year, the Catholic Church turns over more than $15 billion. If it was a corporation it would rank in Australia’s top 10.
The church is not required to file income tax returns, nor pay tax on commercial businesses, nor pay capital gains tax on the sale of assets, nor pay land tax, nor local government rates on school property.
The church owns an insurance company, a mortgage broking business, a multi-storey car park in Melbourne’s CBD, a vineyard and also controls more than $4 billion in superannuation funds.
The church holds in excess of $100 billion in property and other assets…
The church law clearly states that when transferring or selling church property to someone else, “The church’s social mission must be taken into account … so that it furthers the work of charity within society”.
Recently, in some countries, the church has found it necessary to sell off property to settle a string of claims that priests sexually abused children. Is this a charitable function? For that matter, is acting as a property developer a charitable function?