Tuesday, June 11, 2002

The Weakland case: An invitation to cast the first stone

Commentary by Sandra M. Schneiders, National Catholic Reporter, June 11, 2002 (via Edge)
What about the money? Weakland, by his own admission, paid his accuser $14,000 of his own funds. The latter apparently obtained it as subsidy for a virtually fruitless “ministerial project.” But Weakland, in the letter his accuser made public (in clear violation of the latter’s legal obligations, his promise and any modicum of human decency) made it clear that he had no more personal funds available and that he would not violate his episcopal responsibilities to the Milwaukee church by using any money collected from the faithful to support Marcoux or his projects. The second settlement of $450,000, made apparently when Marcoux threatened to go public, did not come from funds collected from the faithful or from diocesan projects. It was taken from the archdiocesan operating budget, explained by his lawyer as funds derived from investments, over which the archdiocesan leadership had discretionary control.

As I understand it, the money came from the property fund resulting from selling surplus real estate. To the untrained eye, investment returns on money collected from the faithful, or money from the sale of property purchased with money collected from the faithful, remains money collected from the faithful, rather than becoming an episcopal slush fund.
So what about “zero tolerance?” Zero tolerance is neither punishment nor vengeance. It is the only effective response to incurable pathology and the resulting moral depravity. It is and must be employed to keep people who are and will always be a lethal danger to the defenseless away from potential victims and without the cloak of the helping professions (including ministry) to give them access to victims and to shield them from detection. As far as the best medical and psychiatric data can tell us, this is the case of sexual abusers, especially pedophiles.

What if a bishop repeatedly fails to have that “zero tolerance”? Should there be more than “zero tolerance” for his remaining in office?


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