Catholic Church Claims ‘Religious Freedom’ To Weasel Out Of Paying Abuse Victims

The Catholic Archdiocese Of Milwaukee, facing a $17 million payout to victims of sexual abuse by priests, is doing everything it possibly can to welch on its obligations. No less than 45 priests from the area are accused of sexual abuse, including one particularly vile piece of trash accused of molesting 200 deaf boys.

The methods the ever-so-moral Catholic Church has been using to get out of paying what it agreed to in a settlement rival the tactics of any corporate damage control team.

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In 2011, the Archdiocese filed for bankruptcy, claiming the financial burden of the lawsuits was just too much for them to bear.  Around the same time, $55 million was transferred to a separate trust to “care for the church’s cemeteries and mausoleums.”  When the victims of abuse went to court seeking reparations from those funds, a federal circuit judge ruled in 2013 that the church had the religious liberty not to use that money.

Does this mean you can tell the cable company that you’ve decided not to pay them because your religion forbids it?

Not quite.  A panel of judges on Monday reversed the asinine decision and said the church wasn’t allowed to hide behind religious liberty to avoid making payments.

The issue of “religious freedom” came about when the church stated that it had a canonical obligation to maintain the church’s burial ground in perpetuity.  If victims of sex abuse are compensated, the Archdiocese said, “there will be no funds or, at best, insufficient funds, for the perpetual care of the Milwaukee Catholic Cemeteries,” making the claim that it will be unable to fulfill a religious obligation.

The court disagreed, stating that creating a debtor exemption on religious grounds would create a precedent for deceit and a new wave of fraudulent religious organizations created to circumvent the bankruptcy code to gain economic advantage over its competitors.

The church, as God-loving as it declares itself, loves its money just as much if not more, so this legal battle will likely go on for years to come.

The church may have a millennium to decide to do the right thing.  The victims of their priests do not.


H/T: Think Progress | Image: Wiki Commons


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