Gregory on the settlement

Gregory on the settlement

Bishop Wilton Gregory, head of the US bishops’ conference, issued a statement on the Boston $85 million settlement yesterday.

So what’s wrong with this statement?

“This is an important agreement.  It demonstrates that the Church is committed to working out just settlements which seek to meet, to the extent possible, the needs of people who have suffered terribly.  I hope that all the victims will choose to participate in this global settlement.

“Certainly a monetary settlement is only part of the process of healing.  That is why the Archdiocese will continue to offer psychological counseling to victims.

“These were among the cases that precipitated 20 months of soul-searching by the Church.  We are visibly seeking to heal our wounds caused by sexual abuse and moving forward as promised in the Dallas Charter of 2002.”

First, there isn’t a single mention of a spiritual cause or solution to the victims’ suffering, not one hint that an application of the Gospel message or the sacraments or the healing touch of the Lord is part of any of this. This could just as easily have been said by an agnostic lawyer or politician as it was by Gregory.

Second, what’s with his claiming credit? “We are visibly seeking to heal our wounds caused by sexual abuse and moving forward as promised in the Dallas Charter of 2002.” Who is this “we”? Here’s the inherent problem of the US bishops’ conference and the disconnect by those who hold leadership positions within it. It is not the supervisory body of the US bishops. It is an advisory and consultative body. It does not make the rules for bishops. It can pass no binding law unless the Vatican makes it its own.

As Phil Lawler points out in Off the Record, why does Gregory feel he needs to comment on the settlement? By doing so he perpetuates this illusion that the bishops’ conference has some authority over diocesan bishops. It doesn’t.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli

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