Lawyers want loving for role in Scandal expose

Lawyers want loving for role in Scandal expose

The millions they earned in settlements from the Catholic Church not being enough, plaintiffs’ lawyers want big pats on the back for their role in exposing the Scandal. While the actions of both the Boston Globe and the lawyers in exposing the corruption at the heart of the Church in the coverup of clergy sex-abuse was necessary, I don’t applaud them for their motives or the worst of their actions, any more than I applaud the heart attack that causes the doctor to find a heretofore unknown tumor, or more to the point, any more than I applaud the terror attacks the expose the holes in our national security.

The Globe‘s motives are bound up in its editors’ and publishers’ agenda to undermine the Church’s authority and influence, and the failures of our ecclesial leadership gave them just the opening they needed. Likewise, the lawyers smelled lots of money just waiting to be smoked out of the Church’s coffers and incredibly bungled actions by certain bishops gave them the opportunity to take their standard one-third retainers out of the millions upon millions just waiting to be plucked.

In an essay in the Globe, a law professor and—oh wait—author of a new book on the topic, how convenient, Timothy Lytton, lauds the ability to legislate and re-engineer society at the business end of a lawsuit:

The remarkable success of clergy sexual abuse litigation stands out among the many recent attempts to use civil lawsuits to address social problems, most prominently against tobacco companies (aimed at reducing smoking) and against gun-makers (designed to produce stricter gun control). Tobacco and gun litigation have played significant but relatively small roles in larger antismoking and gun-control movements that predated them by decades. And while lawsuits have focused attention on the role of the tobacco and gun industries in contributing to smoking addiction and gun violence, the results in terms of industry reform and government regulation have been modest.

Social re-engineering and getting paid too

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
15 comments
  • Lawyers may be scoundrels, and their courage may come from the pocketbook, but they were the only ones with enough garbanzos to stop the carnage in Boston and that can’t be forgotten. 

    The Catholic population didn’t have the nerve and there’s something really, really sick about the fact that someone like Geoghan (et al) could abuse again and again and again and no one stopped him.  And he’s not the only one.

  • Don’t give them more credit than they deserve. They smelled blood in the water. Like I said, it’s like being grateful for the heart attack that resulted in the tumor being found.

  • True, Dominico.

    But one must not give the Catholic community more credit than it deserves either.  They did NOTHING.  Well, except, fawn over their oh-so-cool trendy favorites no matter what else they were doing.

    The whole Boston swamp deserved the coverage it got.

  • It is a myth that no one in Boston was speak out as if all of us here are all just warmed over liberals. There are quite a few solid and orthodox people here. In addition, the Catholic media were all over this story for years.

    Yeah, the problem was that a lot of people weren’t paying attention, but that’s a far cry from them being complicit.

    All you know about this archdiocese is what you see in a biased media. Those of us who live here know that there’s a whole lot of good that doesn’t get the coverage.

    Maybe some of that’s my fault. Maybe I’ve spent too much time over the years ranting about the problems in Boston, instead of acknowledging the good, but if so that’s because this blog was originally intended to be an outlet for frustration and I didn’t anticipate having an audience.

  • These neglected incidents resulted in the social and legal equivalent of civil war.  Unfortunately, there has been a lot of “collateral damage.”  Many innocent people have gotten hurt from a good many of the efforts to correct the problem, however well meaning those efforts have been.  I strongly suspect we have not yet seen the end of this collateral damage.

    The collateral damage from the abuses that led to the so-called Reformation include the 100 Years’ War in Europe, the secular extremism of the Enlightenment that led to Bismark’s Kulturkampf and Nazi Germany, the hundreds millions of lives lost in Communist purges, and the Brave New World of clinical attitudes toward human sexuality, reproduction, and the hundreds of millions of lives lost in surgical and pharmaceutical abortions.

    As for the fallout from the clergy sex abuse scandal, so far, we’ve been lucky.

  • If these lawyers are so courageous then tell me why none of them has ever taken a case where a minor child tests positive for HIV at a clinic under the jurisdiction of the Mass. Dept. of Public Health(MDPH) HIV/AIDS Bureau? The policy of the MDPH is to tell no one, not even the child’s parents. If an adult infects a child by engaging in sex acts, there is no report given to the legal authorities. But I’m sure a diligent lawyer could get the facts of who infected the child. When the present director of the HIV/AIDS Bureau,Kevin Cranston, was asked why so many youth are being infected with HIV, he said :“that young men are at particular risk for contracting HIV infection when they seek out partners in the adult gay community. The higher rate of HIV infection among older gay men in Massachusetts, many of whom Cranston says are experiencing “prevention fatigue” and are less careful about practicing safer sex,puts youth at great risk for contracting the virus when they choose adult partners.”(Bay Windows,7/10/03,“HIV in youth on rise”).
    When the lead criminal lawyer,Kurt Schwartz,  in the Atty. Gen.‘s office was asked about this, he said that the department that has jurisdiction over this matter is the Mass. Dept. of Public Health! By the way, Kurt Schwartz was the lead lawyer investigating the priest abuse scandal.
    Also, by the way, if you look up information about Kevin Cranston on your search engine you can see that a number of years ago, Kevin Cranston helped to form BAGLEY, an organization formed to help gay youth to associate with one another. Also, has any else looked up the Home for Little Wanderers in Waltham? It is intended to house children who seek out a place where gay and lesbian youth will feel comfortable and can associate with one another. What a ripe situation for someone to exploit!
    But no lawyer would dare to touch the travesty of the increase in HIV infection in youth in Mass. with a ten foot pole! If they can’t tie it in with the priest abuse scandal then it’s not worth their effort.

  • I think Dom is absolutely incorrect in his analysis.

    Blaming the media for the woes of the Church on the sex scandals is rather wrong-headed.

    The adage “Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive” comes to mind. And the web was woven by princes of the Church!

    The Globe Spotlight series on the sex scandals was very typical of any investigate report of this nature. Did the Globe publish anything of signifcance that was inaccurate or untruthful? What I saw was mainly straight, honest reporting.

    I’m grateful the Globe’s editors had the courage to stand up to Cardinal Law. He was proven to have lied repeatedly. That’s legitimate news.

    Scores of other bishops were proven to have lied repeatedly to victims.  Sadly, only the secular media was willing to pursue uncovering this dishonesty.

    I spent 10 years as editor of two different Catholic newspapers (one Church-owned and the other independent) and must say that there is no diocesan newspaper I would trust to tell the “real” truth on the matter of the sex scandals. I was under the stern order to publish nothing about pedophiles in Detroit (early 1990s) when I was at the archdiocesan paper. It was a noxious, toxic atmosphere.

    There is no excuse for Church officials to have lied to anyone about the behavior of its priests. The Catchism itself says there is no justification for lying.

    A proper response would be for the Church to make some changes, beginning with many dozens of bishops who squandered any claim to trust from the laity, or anyone else.

    Fr. John Hardon, S.J., used to say publicly in the late 1990s that the bishops were “the worst in the history of the Church.”

  • Jay, you’ve mischaracterized my point. I wasn’t blaming the media or letting bishops off the hook. Anyone who’s read this blog or seen my other writing know what a silly idea that would be.

    I’m saying that neither the Globe nor the lawyers had anything but their own self-interests in mind. They weren’t interested in saving the Church, but in tearing her down. That the “Augean stables” needed to be flushed out was beside the point for them and they really don’t want to see authentic reform.

    The Globe wanted to bust the Church’s authority and prestige in order to keep her silent as they pushed an agendas full of things like, say, gay marriage. That Cardinal Law and others gave them the ammunition to do that is indeed their own fault.

    Jay, this isn’t the first time you’ve accused me of trying to excuse the bishops for their failings in the Scandal. Just because I think the Globe and plaintiffs’ lawyers are not on our side doesn’t mean that I automatically think the bishops and priests who lied and covered up have no fault. It’s not all one or the other.

    Courage from the Globe’s editors? Not hardly. What were the possible negative consequences for them? There were none.

  • Nobody denies that the lawyers did it for money.  Not even they deny that.  But it needed doing and they did it and no one else would.  That’s the point.

  • I have to say I am somewhat baffled at Dom’s attitude about the media in regards to the “Scandals.”

    First, reporting on the scandals is not intrinsically anti-Catholic. There are some very loyal and faithful Catholic journalists and publications that pursued the “Scandals.” Steve Brady at Roman Catholic Faithful, the “Wanderer Gang,” Michael Rose, Catholic World Report and several others were at the forefront in reporting on the “Scandals” long before the Globe got   involved in 2002.

    The Globe’s Pulitzer Prize was well-earned. It’s coverage was monumnetal not because the paper is anti-Catholic, but because of the nature of the story, which is about breathtaking corruption in the Diocese of Boston.

    It may very well be that its opinion pages and columnists are rabidly anti-Catholic, but the Spotlight series stands on its own journalistically. It was solid reporting of a major, major scandal. I’m talking here of the illegal sexual behavior or priests and of the efforts of bishops and chanceries to cover it up, sometimes illegally.

    The Globe and the secular press have done a major service on these matters. The Church-controlled Catholic press, to its shame, betrayed the laity for decades, and continues to do so.

    Think about it: Isn’t there something really, really wrong when bishops and cardinals themselves admit they have lied, and lied, and lied again about priest-rapists? It’s really a staggering reality.

    It’s certainly not anti-Catholic to demand know the truth.  There is nothing in Scripture that supports the ideas that motivated bishops in the scandals. Jesus preferred the millstone solution.

    And finally, yes, the Globe’s editors and publisher exhibited remarkable courage. You probably know better than those of us outside of Boston that Cardinal law and others in the Church were exceedinly critical of the Globe for pursuing the story. As I understand it, he publicly denounced the Globe for opposing him. It is significant when a bishop calls the media “anti-catholic.” Even if you hate to admit it, I can tell you that Catholic reporters/editors I worked with in the secular press (10 years I worked in the secular press) would have been really embarassed if the local priest or bishop criticized him. Even today the public gives great credibility to bishops and priests.

    I just did a google search on Law’s criticism of the Globe. One of the articles makes for interesting reading: http://www.greaterboston.tv/features/btp_law_041202.html

    In city after city there has been testimony from all sorts of people in authority (police, media, the judiciary, prosectors) showing that there was a strong reluctance to give the Church the benefit of the doubt, or to just ignore reports of abuse. In Toledo several policemen/detectives reported only last year that they knew they would be fired 20-plus years ago if they pursued the case against the priest who is now in prison for murder.

    I was told by a very prominent reporter at a a major meto daily newspaper in 2002 or 2003 that he and his paper ignore stories involving “consensual” sexual situations with priests. He said they considers it their own private business.

    In any case, I make my point again: The woes facing the Catholic Church are not the making of the media or the lawyers. Bishops told little lies that led to greater lies, to the point that, for some of them, their whole lives were a lie. They did that, not the media.

    Sorry for the long post.

  • Jay, show me exactly where I said that the media reporting on the scandals is intrinsically anti-Catholic. You can’t because I didn’t. I wouldn’t because I’ve reported on those scandals too. I was an editor at the very Catholic World Report you cite!

    I have never defended the scandals, the lies by bishops or the cover-up. again, you arep utting words in my mouth.

    As for the Globe’s coverage and Law’s criticism, so what? Catholics in Boston know that having the cardinal criticize the Globe had zero-impact by January 2002.

    he woes facing the Catholic Church are not the making of the media or the lawyers.

    And you are constructing a straw man. I never said that the media and the lawyers created those woes. I said that they took advantage of the woes we created ourselves, but we shouldn’t have to thank them for it.

    Jay, I know you’ve been mistreated by some bishops down the line, but stop trying to line up everybody who doesn’t agree with you one-hundred-percent that all bishops are rotten to the core as the other side.

    I’m not disagreeing with you on the vital details, but you insist on accusing me of saying things I’m not saying. If you won’t take your blinders off for a moment and realize that, then this conversation is done.

  • I think we do have to thank them for their investigation in the same sense you’d have to thank a judge for punishing you for a crime committed. Without the publicity, there would be no opportunity to repent and repair for the offenses. That doesn’t make Globe reporters selfless heroes, but it shows that by doing their job, they did us a service.
    Mostly, we have God to thank! But it wouldn’t hurt us to thank the messenger, too.

  • Like Isaid, I’m glad the problem was made visible, but I’m not grateful to the lawyers for suing the Church for their own gain. Just like I’d be glad to discover a growing tumor during treatment for a heart attack, but I’m not going to be happy I had a heart attack.

  • Somehow, I got knocked off course and started thinking about the journalists rather than the lawyers. Oh, yes, the lawyers. Now, thanking the lawyers, unless you were a defendant, is much more of a challenge. I’m not there, yet. BUT I can say that many of them did their jobs well and deserve professional respect.

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