Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Diocese of Wilmington Went Under

The Diocese of Wilmington, Delaware, just slid beneath the waves. In their case, “Chapter 11” is not part of a Biblical book, but the bishop’s attempt to keep his miter above water. Too many abuse cases, on one hand, and too many people with large baskets grabbing at eggs laid by the Golden Goose.

Fellow named Anderson, a lawyer by trade, claims to have been abused by a priest when he was young and uses that to justify his full-time practice of cracking down on clergy abusers. All well and good, I suppose, but he has been quoted as helping other lawyers get in on the business, saying, “There’s plenty of money for everyone.”

And indeed there is. I forget the ballpark (or, to be more accurate, the bank account) figure, but he has made perhaps $20 million in fees just for himself.

I’m never sure just how much healing a lot of money can do. It can pay for the services of someone in the healing professions, a person who can help the victim achieve some peace of mind and go forward with his life. But can a large judgement heal, or just keep up the anger level? Does cash bring peace, or bad memories?

Are the lawyers interested in bringing the victim back to life, or collecting the 33%, 40% or sometimes 50% contingency fee? You sue for $1 million in a slam-dunk case and the barrister walks out with $350k. You have $650k, enough for college, a trip to Disney, a few cruises, new car, fine restaurants. Hey, Father, rub me again; I’m broke.


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