The bishop doesn’t work here

The bishop doesn’t work here

Bishop Thomas Daily of Brooklyn is defending himself in a lawsuit against the diocese by claiming that he doesn’t work for the diocese. Specifically, the bishop is claiming that he can’t be a co-defendant in a lawsuit that includes the diocese and several other officials, because of a state law designed to protect unpaid officers and directors of non-profits from legal liability. The bishop’s lawyer claims that Daily is unpaid and therefore can’t be sued.

I think that’s a bit disingenuous. The bishop may not get a paycheck every week, but he certainly receives benefits—room and board and all his other expenses. And I’m not sure if this is still true elsewhere, but the Archdiocese of Boston is a corporation sole in the name of the Archbishop; i.e. legally the bishop is the diocese.

I guess the theology of the Church’s hierarchy and the role of the bishop in the local Church can get set aside when legal matters arise. Just like a lot of Catholics do, elements of the faith get put in a box to be brought when convenient.

  • But whatever the law says, the bishop is the diocese and he is the one person responsible for it, the pastor and shepherd. For him to try to use the law to deny the fact is a little sleazy.

    As Rod says, some diocese treat priests as independent contractors when it benefits the diocese—on matters like Social Security and taxes—and as employees when that benefits the diocese. Never mind that priests get it coming and going. Rather than do what’s right and own up to one’s responsibilities—whether in this lawsuit or in general—the bishop is taking advantage of a loophole and that just doesn’t sit right with me.

  • The law allows many things which Christians would not deem acceptable, such as playing legal hardball with alleged victims of abuse. Some would argue that the bishops should use every avenue open to them. I would not. Some avenues are not acceptable.

    I don’t expect bishops to be perfect, but I think there’s a certain minimum standard of behavior we should expect.

    Chris, I don’t think any one here is calling for strict adherence to the law. The opposite is the point I was making. The law may allow it, but that doesn’t make it right.