It seems that money does not heal all wounds. Victims who have received tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars in the Scandal settlement in Boston are receiving financial counseling.
“What do we do with it?” they are asking. And the counselors are warning that “the money can either be a force for healing or a tool for self-destruction.” Considering that many of these people have lingering emotional problems from the abuse they suffered, that’s a fair warning.
“No one is all that excited about the money,” said Boston lawyer Carmen Durso, who represents 42 plaintiffs who have accepted the settlement. “It’s really weird. People are much more focused on getting through this process. It has been a real ordeal for everybody.”
Of course, he thinks it’s weird. As a lawyer seeking civil settlements he measures success in terms of how much money he gets for his client (and incidentally the one-third he gets for himself.) And many of the victims themselves were saying for so long how a settlement would help them “move on” and give them a sense of justice.
But does it? Our consumerist society measures so much—happiness, success, etc.—by how much money you have. Yet it ultimately fails to satisfy. The only real source of contentment, justice, and joy comes from Christ in your heart and mind. The real tragedy is that by the original abuse by the perverts and then continued abuse by Church leaders who ignored their concerns has placed a barrier to many of these people being able to come to the Church to find Christ and receive real healing.
Already one victim of John Geoghan who had received a share of an earlier settlement has been arrested for bank robbery. He said he burned through his money with a drug habit he developed after the settlement. I’m afraid that others who find that the letdown following the settlement—the slack period after the media attention and the court cases have gone away, when they still feel an emptiness despite their “win”—will turn to other methods to fill that emptiness. They surely need our prayers.
Fiinancial counseling will help. Therapy will help more. But what they truly need is a healing with the Church and a closer relationship with Christ.