Another American diocese has filed for bankruptcy protection, making San Diego the fifth to do so under the weight of sex-abuse lawsuits and declining donations from disgusted parishioners. While the filing was made on the eve of the first lawsuits going to trial, the action is said by the diocese to be in the alleged victims’ best interests.
In announcing the bankruptcy filing, Bishop Robert Brom said that the step was necessary in order to ensure that all victims would be compensated. After plaintiffs’ lawyers rejected a blanket offer from the diocese, the bishop explained that if the cases all went to trial, “early trial judgments in favor of some victims could so deplete diocesan and insurance resources that there would be nothing left for other victims.”
Take a step back for a moment and consider how far we’ve fallen as a Church that our primary concerns seem to be the compensation of sex-abuse victims created by the passivity of certain prelates when confronted by predators within the priesthood as well as programs to weed out sex-abusers among the mothers and grandmothers teaching religious education and stripping the innocence from children in our religious education programs as we confront them with details of how some perverts want to hurt them.
However we got here, with whomever the fault lies, the fact is that it is the whole Church that must dig ourselves out of this mess. The solution isn’t just found in the Pope or the bishops or the priests, but in all of us because we are all the People of God, the Body of Christ, a Universal Family.
I’m afraid the worst may be yet to come, but I believe that it behooves the rest of us to continue to pray, repent, and reform. Yes, I said repent, because if there’s one lesson we learn in the Scriptures, it is that the sins of my brother are indeed my responsibility. For whose sins did Christ climb that cross? His? Of course not. It was our sins He carried and for which He suffered and in that He taught us a valuable lesson about how to conduct ourselves. We are our brother’s keepers and our duty is not just to point out faults and complain and demand that someone else clean up the mess, but for us to start with ourselves and to pray and sacrifice. And, yes, to point out the problems and complain too. No one says we have to be silent about the problems we see, but we can’t be passive observers either.