Wednesday, February 28, 2007


The Diocese of San Diego has declared bankruptcy. The express purpose of this move, per Bishop Robert Brom’s letter, is to thwart the efforts of victims to seek restitution of damages suffered from the criminal activity of San Diego’s Catholic clergy.

I thought that this sort of thing was covered in religion class back in grammar school, St Charles, andSt Gabe’s, so I did some research in Baltimore Catechism #2.

First I searched for the words bankrupt and bankruptcy, and didn’t find them. So I’m assuming that the availability or unavailability of civil bankruptcy protection doesn’t affect the right-and-wrong of a particular situation.

Let’s see what BC#2 says.

374. Q. What are we commanded by the seventh Commandment?
A. By the seventh Commandment we are commanded to give to all men what belongs to them and to respect their property.

376. Q. Are we bound to restore ill-gotten goods?
A. We are bound to restore ill-gotten goods, or the value of them, as
far as we are able; otherwise we cannot be forgiven.

377. Q. Are we obliged to repair the damage we have unjustly caused?
A. We are bound to repair the damage we have unjustly caused.

When it comes to priests molesting children and teenagers in their care, it might be difficult to put a dollar figure on the damage done. The Church and the victim, in any given case, could differ on what amount of compensation would be just.

When such a dispute arises, it seems necessary to resort to some third party mechanism, (in the U.S. it’s the civil court system) to come up with some sort of resolution. The Diocese' bankruptcy move derails this process.

The Bishop of San Diego, in his letter regarding the bankruptcy filing, has stated his intent to disregard and violate the seventh commandment as taught in the Baltimore Catechism. In his letter he says (emphases mine):

We are painfully aware of the harm that the victims of abuse have suffered, and we want to treat all of them fairly and equitably. At the same time, good stewardship demands that settlements not cripple the ability of the Church to accomplish its mission and ministries. Consequently, we must consider how best to fairly compensate the victims while at the same time not jeopardizing our overall mission.

So Bishop Brom says he WILL NOT not give victims the compensation that rightly belongs to them if doing so would “cripple the ability of the Church” to do what it feels like doing, what it refers to as “its mission and ministries.”

This is the kind of ends and means argument that grade schoolers can pick apart.

If the Church’s mission does not include justice, then its mission, in fact, should be crippled.

It seems that the Catholic clergy will say or do or pay anything to avoid confronting the role of sexuality in their lives. It’s hugely expensive, it’s painful for everyone, and in this day and age, it’s just silly—as silly as the stupid vestments these strange men insist on wearing.

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