"As It Was In The Beginning: The Coming Democratization of the Catholic Church" by Robert McClory

A book review by Robert M. Kelly
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"In the Beginning" is the most complete account I've read of what ails the Catholic church, where these pathologies come from, and why the solutions to them will likely be incorporated into the structure of the church — eventually. McClory is able to show these processes because of his unique perspective. He was a priest for many years. His training has given him perspective on what's gone wrong, and why. But the story of his clerical service, dating roughly from the 1940s to the 1970s, is not the strength of the book. The history of the Catholic church, stretching back two thousand years, is the real star of the show.

McClory is expert at providing an overview, then swooping in and highlighting significant trends every few hundred years. His interest is in finding precedents for lay participation in the church. He explains how these came about, and suggests the benefits that could occur if they were revived. He shows clearly that lay participation was common in the early church, a point that even conservatives who uphold the hierarchy at every turn must concede. Indeed, the body of believers during the first century of Christendom, following the advice of none other than Jesus Christ, did without priests, bishops and popes.

Some of the most interesting stretches of the book describe Gregory's reform pontificate (around 700 A.D.) and the theological basis of the conciliar movement (1000 A.D or so). Here McClory shows a deft scholarly hand at compressing and explaining much neglected theology and ecclesiastical development. You will not hear references to these things during a Sunday sermon,nor during a papal encyclical. These explanations disclose that lay participation is not a new nor a radical idea.

He explains how the monarchical trappings of the church, which repel so many, first came to be. He also shows how these habits became fixed and, one is tempted to say, immutable. I say _tempted_ because McClory shows time and again that much of what we take to be immutable, fixed, and infallible in the church is anything but. The strongest lessons in the book show that the hierarchy of the church first resists, then argues with, and (at long last) incorporates change. McClory demonstrates that the 'sense of the faithful' (beliefs held by the vast majority of ordinary people) can be as important as papal pronouncements.

The official Catholic church has experienced an unprecedented wave of bad press over the last 12 years or so. These revelations have included horrific allegations, largely substantiated, that thousands of clergy have caused harm to thousands of children of the laity. McClory tells this tale, too. Yet, this is not a negative book. On the contrary, he shows that the real problem in the clerical ranks is not the love of sex, but the love of power. That doesn't excuse the injustices, but it does point to the causes and to some likely solutions, which have to do with decentralization, transparency, and listening to the voices from below.

For committed Catholics who love church teachings but hate the ossified structure which has gained such an apparent stranglehold on the church, this book could be a revelation. It may not prove that the church is worthwhile (that may require more faith than many can muster). However, McClory's book makes a powerful argument that the Catholic church could be worth a lot more than is apparent. His book all but demonstrates that the church, as bad as it may be, is not yet beyond hope. That is a singular achievement.

The book has a few flaws. Tighter editing would have improved readability by removing redundancies and trite phrases. The introduction spends rather too much time on the Grand Inquisitor from The Brothers Karamazov. While the digression is pertinent to the theme of problems in church management, it seemed somewhat at odds with the main topic. The themes of the novel are many, and the inclusion of thought-provoking hypotheses and ethical debates pulled this reader's attention off McClory's main theme. The resultant confusion could not have been what the author intended, particularly in an introduction.


The body of the book is not confused but proceeds in a straight line at a slow pace. It might fairly be called plodding. But, much historical writing is plodding, and building a case as strong as McClory's depends on covering a lot of ground. He has enhanced this dry church history by showing the effects of ideas, opinions and a wide cast of characters on that history. He has also included his own story and, in a quietly effective manner, his enduring faith in the viability of the Catholic religion. This is a view that few are qualified to provide, and fewer still would be capable of integrating into a two-thousand year history.

Big Doings In Holyoke: Mater Dolorosa Controversy Rolls On

            A city council vote will take place in Holyoke, Massachusetts about whether a Polish historic district will be created. One of the anchors of the proposed district is the Mater Dolorosa church, which has been a thorn in the side of Roman Catholic Bishop McDonnell since his decision to close the church and merge the parish with another parish nearby several years ago.
            Recently, a petition from the pastors of four Catholic parishes in Holyoke was directed to the city council members seeking to influence their up-or-down vote on whether the historic district should be created. 


            As  a longtime Catholic of the Springfield Diocese and follower of the parish downsizing plan which has been implemented here, I believe this petition from the pastors contains questionable assertions. Those assertions are the subject of this blog post.

The assertions are paraphrased.

Assertion # 1: The four undersigned pastors care for the people of God in Holyoke by administering their donated money.

Assertion # 2: The inclusion of Mater Dolorosa property in a historic district would:
1. force the OLOTC parish to become a property manager.
2. cause fiscal responsibility for MD to fall squarely on the OLOTC community.
3. tie up the money of OLOTC parish to maintain the property of MD.

Assertion # 3: A "yes" vote will prevent OLOTC parish from caring for the people of God in Holyoke by causing parish administrators to spend less of the money collected from its parishioners on the parishioners themselves.

Assertion # 4: We, pastors employed by a religious organization, ask you, a secular body politic, for your support in our opinion about what is best for the people of Holyoke.

_________________________

Let's take these one by one.

            There is nothing radical in Assertion #1 but it's worth noting that this peculiarly Catholic "care" has two limitations: Number one, it has to do specifically with the "care of souls." In Catholic theology, this is the only care that matters. This spiritual care for Catholic adherents has nothing to do with the civic involvement of Catholic parishioners, and still less to do with care for the general population, or care for the values that the general population might or might not embrace, such as historic preservation. All of these issues, including the civic responsibilities of Catholic adherents, are properly the subject of secular debate.
            Number two, this "care" is also limited because the Catholic Church is not a social agency. Although the Catholic church has a generally good record of generosity toward all citizens, it has also proven on occasion to be intolerant, small-minded, and vindictive, particularly on gay rights and abortion rights issues.
            Oddly, this obsession with control has been even more on display when those within its ranks have a difference of opinion with central administration. Let us not forget that Bishop McDonnell sued the former parishioners of Mater Dolorosa and attempted to evict them from their own church. In fact, lawsuits have been a prominent feature of the McDonnell administration. See here:


            This is not the time to go into every culture war battle of the past. Suffice to say that the Catholic church, as represented by these four pastors, and by implication their immediate supervisor, Bishop McDonnell, certainly have no moral high ground to stand on when it comes to putting the values of all citizens ahead of the institutional aims of the church. On the contrary, we've seen that when the institutional aims of the church conflict with the rights of abuse victims, gay rights advocates, historic preservation advocates, and displaced parishioners, the response of Bishop McDonnell has been to support the centralized institution above all else.
            Although Assertion # 1 is true on its own merits, toward the end of the letter the pastors conflate this spiritual "care" which is good for the parishioners of Holyoke with the general civic "care" of all the citizens of Holyoke. The two "cares" are not the same, nor can they ever be, because of the plurality of religions in America and the need to maintain a separation of church and state, a value which Americans hold dear.
            Assertion #2 has three clauses, each of which claims that the money of OLOTC would be tapped following the successful integration of MD into a historic district. Those who don't understand church finances (and even longtime parishioners do not) might be swayed by this argument, because it has logic on its side. After all, even the most fervent supporter of MD must admit that it takes money to keep a property up, and the money must come from somewhere. Unfortunately, logic has little to do with church finances.
            The facts are these: all church property in the Springfield Diocese, many millions of dollars worth, has been deeded over to the bishop. There are other financial arrangements that could have been made. For example, a minority of Catholic dioceses nationwide are beginning to convert to a system in which each individual parish incorporates themselves, leaving central administration as a separate unit. In point of fact, this would be a better fit with canon law, according to canon lawyers such as Nicholas Cafardi.  However, the vast majority of dioceses, including Springfield, are still using corporate sole. The first permission to a church group to use corporate sole in the Commonwealth was granted to the Archdiocese of Boston by the legislature in 1898; the Springfield Diocese followed soon after.  For more on this aspect, see:


See also: 

3 historical articles on Corporation Sole (Boston Globe)



              Corporate sole is maintained by investing the office of bishop with the powers of a one-person corporation, in perpetuity. The power is indivisible. The only one who gains the power is the successor bishop. An outstanding advantage of the system is that corporate sole avoids probate. But, there are many more advantages, the chief of which is that all of the money is in one pot, and the pot is controlled by the Bishop.
             This highly centralized system is completely at odds with the idea that OLOTC, or any other parish in Holyoke, is responsible for MD. The opposite is true. The individual parishes are responsible for upholding the diocese financially, just as the dioceses are responsible for upholding the Vatican financially. MD at present is under the complete jurisdiction of the bishop, and will remain so regardless of the vote of the Holyoke city council. The corporate sole system, under which all power over the parishes is given to the bishop, was simply never set up to have one parish care for another. The structure of corporate sole will not change if  a historic district is created.
            What the historic district would change, however, is the scrutiny of Bishop McDonnell's treatment of the MD church. It is this change, which would entail better maintenance and preservation of outstanding cultural features, which Bishop McDonnell is fighting. At the moment the church is mothballed, and in decline. 
            A "yes" vote would bring to the public eye the responsibility of the Diocese to maintain the stone structure of MD, including its tower, and the duty to provide adequate heating and general maintenance, including minimal landscaping. More seriously, the lack of reasonable maintenance may subject the diocese to fines if it engages in "demolition by neglect," and does not maintain MD's historic appearance, for example, if it were to replace stained glass windows with plywood. That possibility is not as remote as it may sound. 
            Most serious of all, a historic designation would undercut the ability of the Springfield Diocese to sell the church and the ground under it to the highest bidder. Despite the protests of church officials to the contrary, it is simple unbelievable that this possibility is not a part of the options being considered within the chancery for the future of MD.

Assertion # 3: A "yes" vote will prevent OLOTC parish from caring for the people of God in Holyoke by causing parish administrators to spend less of the money collected from its parishioners on the parishioners themselves.

            This is not true. Parish administrators such as Rev. Scherer and Rev. Lunney do not have the power to decide how much they will spend on their parish. The money of these parishes, like all money in the diocese, is administered by the bishop. He alone can decide. The little money that goes toward maintaining MD at present can come only from the general funds of the diocese, because that is the corporate sole system. Again, there is only one pot of money, and the bishop controls the pot.
            The former parishioners of MD have been told repeatedly by Bishop McDonnell during their long court battles (and this is on permanent record in several civil courts of law, by the way) that MD, as a parish entity, no longer exists, and that MD, and indeed all churches in the diocese, "belong to" the bishop. How then is it possible for Bishop McDonnell to argue now that MD, as an entity, still exists, and that the newly created parish, OLOTC, is responsible for it, and will somehow become even more responsible for it, should a historic designation pass? The contradictions abound.

Assertion # 4: We, as pastors of a religious organization, ask you, a secular body politic, for your support in our opinion about what is best for the people of Holyoke.

            Read the last assertion through, and you'll find that it amounts to an argument that the city councilors should trust the judgment of four men about what is best for everyone in Holyoke.
            The most positive spin that can be put on their statement is that they sincerely believe that shooting down a historic district would be in the best interest of their boss, the bishop, to whom they have sworn an oath of loyalty. Yet even this interpretation is undercut by their questionable allegations about how corporate sole works and about how money is administered within the Diocese of Springfield. 
          

            

Letter to the Committee on the Rights of the Child from BishopAccountability.org

January 11, 2014

Committee on the Rights of the Child
c/o Ilaria Paolazzi
Child Rights Connect
1 rue de Varambé
1202 Geneva, Switzerland

Dear Ms. Paolazzi,

We write to provide input to the CRC’s Consideration of Reports of States Parties, Item 4 of the Provisional Agenda for your Sixty-Fifth Session. The brief attached report provides information that will be useful in assessing the Replies of the Holy See to the List of Issues, dated December 2, 2013. In this letter, we summarize our perspective regarding the Holy See’s Replies.
For ten years, our organization has been monitoring the performance of the Holy See in cases involving the sexual abuse of children by priests and religious and the production and distribution of child abuse images. We maintain the world’s largest archive of documents on these two problems, outside the Holy See’s own archives, and we conduct research on child abuse by priests and religious and on the management of those cases by bishops and their staffs, superiors of religious orders, national bishops’ conferences, and the Holy See.
The Holy See was not responsive in its answer to your Question 11. It did not “provide detailed information on all cases of child sexual abuse committed by members of the clergy, brothers and nuns or brought to the attention of the Holy See.” Nor did it provide detailed information, relating those cases to the six specific subpoints in your list of issues: continued contact of accused persons with minors, reporting to authorities, the supporting and silencing of victims, investigations and proceedings, numbers of victims assisted and possible confidentiality prerequisites for assistance, and preventive measures.
Tens of thousands of documents in our care pertain to the questions you raise; a detailed exploration of your list of issues would be voluminous, and its conclusions dire. We would be pleased to explore the issues with you at greater length, but in this letter and the attached brief report, we make the following four points:

1) Detailed Information on Abuse Cases Brought to the Attention of the Holy See – In the last decade, according to a statement by Cardinal William Levada, the former prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, at a 2012 conference on abuse sponsored by the Holy See, over 4,000 cases of sexual abuse of children by priests and religious have been adjudicated canonically by the Holy See. Based on our files, we estimate that approximately 4,000 additional cases were handled by the CDF and other dicasteries 1950–2001 – the years when the CDF did not yet have sole authority in these matters.
In addition, as we discuss below, the Holy See had systematic access to reports by all its bishops on sexual abuse cases not formally referred to the Holy See for adjudication. The Holy See’s own files therefore likely contain detailed records of more than 10,000 cases of sexual abuse of children by priests and religious. Many of those cases entail a request that a priest be “reduced to the lay state” – i.e., removed from the priesthood – and those requests, which are called “Vota” in the technical lexicon of the Holy See, comprise detailed descriptions of the alleged sexual abuse and anthologies of documents, including correspondence between the victims and the bishop or religious superior, detailed descriptions of the abuse, copies of media coverage of the allegations, and many other types of documents.
In short, the Holy See possesses the largest archive in the world of child abuse allegations, with voluminous supporting documentation. In some cases, including the notorious case of the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the Vatican did its own meticulous investigation, and its archive includes transcripts of interviews with dozens of victims and other knowledgeable persons. In all other cases, its files contain the results of diocesan and religious order investigations and proceedings, which were conducted in keeping with the Holy See’s own binding rules for such processes – Crimen Sollicitationis [Offense of Solicitation], published by the Vatican Polyglot Press in 1922 and1962.
Because of its massive archives and long experience in adjudicating these cases, the Holy See was able to answer your question in great detail, but chose not to do so. It is useful to compare its stated reasons for noncompliance with the facts of Vatican processes and procedures.

2) Command and Control Structures – In its Replies, the Holy See presents an elaborate fiction, stating that its relationship with the middle management of the Catholic Church and its 1.2 billion members is one of encouragement, not implementation, and that its Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) is primarily engaged in “assisting” national bishops’ conferences with the development of Guidelines regarding the sexual abuse of children by priests and religious. In fact, the Holy See requires that the CDF prefect and his dozens of staff be involved in all cases of the sexual abuse of children by priests and religious worldwide.
According to the CDF’s prefect in 2005–2012, Cardinal William Levada, the CDF has canonically adjudicated over 4,000 abuse cases in the last decade. As a direct result of decisions made by the Holy See in those cases, some priests have been removed from the priesthood and hence from any monitoring by their former dioceses or religious institute provinces. Other priests and religious have been returned to ministry by the Holy See, and still others have been ordered to live a life of prayer and penance, apparently without any subsequent involvement by the Holy See in controlling the terms of their residence or activities. Clearly, the Holy See’s involvement in these more than 4,000 abuse cases has been extensive, with significant and sometimes devastating effects on vulnerable populations.
But the Holy See’s involvement in abuse cases goes well beyond the direct adjudication of cases by the CDF, significant as that involvement is. The Holy See maintains a global diplomatic service whose thousands of nuncios and staff are intimately involved in sexual abuse cases. Our files contain documents showing correspondence between victims and their families and the Holy See’s diplomatic representatives, and correspondence between the bishops and their staffs and the Holy See regarding numerous sexual abuse cases. A landmark unofficial report, the 1985 Problem of Sexual Molestation by Roman Catholic Clergy, emerged from the close involvement of the Holy See’s U.S. delegation and Archbishop Pio Laghi in abuse cases in the state of Louisiana. In 1997, the Holy See’s apostolic nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Luciano Storero, intervened to adjust reporting commitments approved by the Irish bishops’ conference. These are not isolated instances.
The apostolic nuncios also provide short lists when bishops are selected by the Holy See. Every bishop is then selected by the Holy See, which monitors each bishop’s performance through the system of quinquennial reports and ad limina visits to the Holy See, which involve meetings with the Pope and with the leaders and staff of the CDF and other dicasteries. Those reports and discussions include reviews of sexual abuse cases. The Holy See has sole responsibility for removing bishops and religious order superiors – a power that is exercised in cases of doctrinal divergence and financial malfeasance, but almost never when a bishop or superior mismanages an abuse case or abuses minors himself. As discussed above, the Holy See also has full responsibility for removing priests and religious who are guilty of abusing children.
[The Code of Canon Law (Can. 399) requires that all bishops submit a detailed report to the Holy See every five years and then come to Rome to discuss the report with the Pope and the various congregations of the Holy See. These so-called quinquennial reports are not public documents, but the quinquennial reports for the Diocese of Wilmington were released in compliance with the nonmonetary terms of the settlement in the Wilmington bankruptcy proceedings. The 1998-2003 Wilmington report provides: 1) a revealing discussion of the “crisis in the church and the Diocese of Wilmington,” including the involvement of the Holy See in abuse cases (02891-02893); 2) biographies of the personnel of the diocesan sexual abuse Review Board (02941); 3) an audit of the diocese's abuse bureaucracy (02942-02945); 4) clergy statistics including accused priests (02975 in 02972-02977); 5) information on the Maryland Catholic Conference’s lobbying on legislation related to sexual abuse (03043 in 03036-03044); and 6) an assessment of media coverage of the abuse crisis (03032). See also the entire report (a 21 megabyte file, also available in easier-to-download parts 1 2 3 4 5 6).
Archbishop Rembert Weakland’s memoirs offer insight into the discussion of sexual abuse in earlier quinquennial reports and ad liminameetings. Weakland writes that in his 1988 quinquennial report he “spoke at greater length about the cases of sexual abuse of minors by clergy, noting that I sensed it was a sign of the lack of psychological and sexual development of candidates to the priesthood and this experience should bring about a renewed examination of formation in the seminaries.” (Rembert G. Weakland, A Pilgrim in a Pilgrim Church: Memoirs of an Archbishop, Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 2009, p. 320). During his 1998 ad limina visit, Weakland writes that he met with Cardinal Ratzinger at the offices of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and “expressed concern over the urgency of certain problems that we were facing in our country and that we were not being given adequate freedom as a local church to solve, for example, the sex-abuse cases” (Ibid. p. 388).]
The command and control system regarding abuse cases, as it is embodied in the CDF, the Holy See’s diplomatic corps, and the system of quinquennial reports to the Holy See and ad limina visits to the pope and his dicasteries, means that the Holy See’s involvement in child abuse cases goes far beyond the encouragement and advice asserted in the Holy See’s Replies.
Needless to say, these specific management structures and processes obtain within a body of mandated belief summarized in theCatechism of the Catholic Church (revised in 1997) and within the policies and procedures embodied in the 1983 Code of Canon Law, together with the collection of particular law that supplements the Code.

3) Current Leadership of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – Since 2001, the CDF has been the preeminent entity within the Holy See for managing cases of sexual abuse of children by priests and religious. As such, the CDF must have the finest leadership if the Catholic Church is to comply with its treaty obligations and recover from the sexual abuse and managerial crimes of the last 60 years. Unfortunately, Pope Francis has recently confirmed in office Archbishop Gerhard Müller, who mismanaged the case of the Rev. Peter Kramer, a convicted sex offender, during the years (2002–2012) that Müller was bishop of Regensburg. Müller violated the very Guidelines that the Holy See’s Replies cite as the CDF’s most important work, and he even threatened to sue his critics in secular courts to punish them for questioning his decisions and practices. The Committee can have no confidence that Müller will lead the CDF to greater compliance with the Holy See’s treaty commitments. [See more about Müller in our Report.]

4) The Record of Pope Francis in Buenos Aires and in Rome – The Pope’s tender outreach to marginalized people and his impassioned attacks on corruption and privilege are commanding worldwide attention and stirring the hopes of millions. But toward those who have been sexually assaulted by Catholic clerics, Francis has shown a strange and unsettling silence. [See more about the Pope's record in our Report.] Children still are not safe, thousands of victims still have not received justice or even pastoral care, and predators are still given sanctuary: this week, Pope Francis refused a Polish prosecutor’s request to extradite Archbishop Josef Wesolowski, a Polish national, from the Vatican to the Dominican Republic to face charges of sexual abuse filed by five Dominican boys. Francis's failure as archbishop and now as pope to advance substantive solutions to the mismanagement of child abuse cases in the Church – coupled with the Holy See’s refusal to provide the detailed information requested by the Committee – suggest that the Holy See continues to prioritize the rights of accused sex offenders over those of violated children. Thus this Committee’s review of the Holy See’s compliance with the Convention is not only unprecedented but of great and urgent importance. We thank you for your courageous and historic work.

Sincerely,

Terence McKiernan
Anne Barrett Doyle
Co-Directors
BishopAccountability.org

Boston Globe: Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s backing sought on bills

http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2013/12/09/advocates-urge-malley-back-statute-limitations-reform-for-abuse-victims/DrPIpXrGQwu9VnNoDTfkUM/story.html
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By Travis Andersen
Globe Staff  
December 09, 2013


Child welfare advocates are calling on the head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston to back legislation that would extend the statute of limitations in Massachusetts on cases brought by victims of childhood sexual abuse.
The open letter to Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley came days after he announced a major effort by Pope Francis to explore ways the church can protect children from abuse and to care for victims. The new Vatican commission marks the Catholic Church’s first comprehensive effort to address a scandal that exploded in 2002 in Boston and become a worldwide crisis.
The bills in Massachusetts are the latest efforts by advocates to get the state Legislature to allow more time for victims of childhood sexual abuse to pursue their alleged abusers in state court. One proposal would allow abuse victims to file a lawsuit in civil court up to the age of 55. Current law generally caps the filing age at 21. A separate bill would open a one-year window for those older than 55 to file claims. In criminal cases, accusers have until age 43 to file charges. The civil and criminal rules apply to all abuse cases and are not limited to church-related incidents.
A spokesman Sunday declined to disclose the archdiocese’s position on the proposals. But when the Legislature considered a more sweeping measure last year, the archdiocese’s policy arm, the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, warned that it could open church organizations to additional liability in decades-old cases and harm their charitable efforts.
On Sunday, a group of advocates led by Massachusetts Citizens for Children sent an open letter to O’Malley, arguing that the current legislation aligns with church principles, as stated by the Catholic Conference.
“Protecting the ‘dignity of the human person and the sanctity of [all] human lives,’ the expressed goals of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference, apply to the quest for justice that victims of sexual abuse and advocates for children have been on for so long,” the advocates wrote.
By supporting the legislation, the advocates added, “you can help us help them and prevent more children from being abused.”
Lawmakers have until the end of the legislative session in July 2014 to send a bill to the governor’s desk for final passage.
Terrence Donilon, a spokesman for the Boston archdiocese, said in a statement that the church continues to seek forgiveness from anyone harmed by “these reprehensible acts” and remains vigilant in its efforts to protect children. “We indemnify and provide services for any person impacted by the sexual abuse of minors in the Church, regardless of when the abuse took place,” Donilon said. “We have been humbled to witness the strength and courage of many survivors through their inspirational accounts of faith and healing.”
During consideration of similar legislation last year, opponents said they feared it could expose dioceses and affiliated groups to additional liability, and potentially undermine the church’s already shaky finances. That previous bill initially called for eliminating the statute of limitations entirely for child sex abuse cases, and for eliminating a $20,000 cap on civil damages for nonprofits.
James F. Driscoll, executive director of the Catholic Conference, said in May 2012 that the measure would “have an immediate and harmful impact on the ability of all nonprofits, not just the Catholic Church, to serve thousands of people who rely on these organizations.’’
Driscoll did not respond to a request for comment Sunday.
The archdiocese has waived the statute of limitations and the charitable immunity cap in many cases it has settled out of court. The church has spent the last 10 years trying to address a massive sexual abuse scandal that in Boston alone has involved more than 1,100 victims and cost the archdiocese about $150 million in damages from civil lawsuits.
Jetta Bernier, executive director of Citizens For Children, known also as MassKids, said in an interview that opponents’ concerns about the financial harm to the church’s charitable programs are misplaced. She said the majority of victims of childhood sexual abuse were not targeted by priests but rather other authority figures including teachers, coaches, and relatives.
And, Bernier said, the church “should base its actions on moral reasonings, not on economic ones.”

Lisa Wangsness, Stephanie Ebbert, and Milton J. Valencia of the Globe Staff contributed to this report.

© 2013 Boston Globe Media Partners, LLC