I read an article out of Brussels, Belgium that says that priests who abused children will have to pay out of their own pockets. The Belgium church is urging victims to take the priests to court rather than the church. It’s a novel idea but I’m not so sure that will work. The Church has much deeper pockets than a priest.
The Catholic Church has paid billions of dollars to victims of priest abuse. Cases are still in abundance. Oddly enough though, the priests who committed the crimes, the bishops who covered them up, and the Vatican which turned a blind eye has used the money of people donating, or “giving to God,” to pay off the victims. The hierarchy of the church from priest to pope has shoveled out the dollars while very few priests were ever prosecuted or disciplined. Most of them just received a reassignment. In fact, the above mentioned article quotes Belgian Bishop Harpigny, “In all instances of reports of serious pedophile cases being sent to Rome, the Vatican left the decision of leaving the priesthood to the pedophile priests themselves.” Further, “Irish bishops in the 1990s proposed reporting molester priests to police but the Vatican came back with a warning that doing so posed serious canonical problems.” To me, that is unconscionable: The Vatican being more interested in its canon than protecting kids that were being abused.
It may be a novel idea to have abusive priests pay the victims out of their own pocket but I don’t think victims will go for it. Priests aren’t exactly the wealthiest people on earth. Yet, there is something to be questioned about these victims taking the sacrificial offerings of other Catholics, who had nothing to do with any aspect of the abuse, as their bounty of retribution against the complicit priests, bishops, cardinals, and Vatican. Individual victims reap millions of dollars not from the priest or Church hierarchy. They harvest the money from innocent people who have given the money with the intention of helping others in greater need. Yet, that’s the way a litigious society works. Even so, I’d think the Church would do everything including taking the wrath personally from all the priests to the pope rather than use “God’s money” to pay off victims of its clergy. In a way, the Church and the victims have transformed “God’s money” into “blood money.”