With seemingly endless lawsuits over historic sexual abuse cases covered up by the Catholic church, their finances are being stretched:
the finances of the Catholic church in America are an unholy mess. The sins involved in its book-keeping are not as vivid or grotesque as those on display in the various sexual-abuse cases that have cost the American church more than $3 billion so far; but the financial mismanagement and questionable business practices would have seen widespread resignations at the top of any other public institution.
The sexual-abuse scandals of the past 20 years have brought shame to the church around the world. In America they have also brought financial strains. By studying court documents in bankruptcy cases, examining public records, requesting documents from local, state and federal governments, as well as talking to priests and bishops confidentially,Â The EconomistÂ has sought to quantify the damage.
The picture is not rosy for the bead chuckers:
The picture that emerges is not flattering. The churchâ€™s finances look poorly co-ordinated considering (or perhaps because of) their complexity. The management of money is often sloppy. And some parts of the church have indulged in ungainly financial contortions in some casesâ€”it is allegedâ€”both to divert funds away from uses intended by donors and to frustrate creditors with legitimate claims, including its own nuns and priests. The dioceses that have filed for bankruptcy may not be typical of the church as a whole. But given the overall lack of openness there is no way of knowing to what extent they are outliers.
Thousands of claims for damages following sexual-abuse cases, which typically cost the church over $1m per victim, according to lawyers involved, have led to a liquidity crisis. This seems to have encouraged a pre-existing trend towards replacing dollars from the faithful with publicly raised debt as a way of financing church business. The church is also increasingly keen to defend its access to public health-care subsidies while claiming a right not to provide certain medical services to which it objects, such as contraception. This increased reliance on taxpayers has not been matched by increased openness and accountability. The church, like other religious groups in America, is not subject to the same disclosure requirements as other non-profits or private entities.
If they didn’t cover up the boy buggering and abuse for so long and instead confronted their pederast priests they wouldn’t be in this situation.