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More L.A. parishes pony up for price of pedophile priests

by Brad A. Greenberg

May 25, 2008 | 10:55 pm

The LA Times today followed that story from last month about St. Bernardine of Siena Catholic Church offering $1.5 million to help the Archdiocese of Los Angeles pay for its pedophile priests. (The initial bill for settlements was $660 million and has climbed to $720 million.) It turns out other parishes wanted to contribute, or at least are wrestling with whether to help subsidize the long-term cost of having kept perverts in ministry. After all, better leadership to begin with would have stemmed the sex abuse scandal by removing pedophiles before they repeated and repeated and repeated their evil. From the Times’ front page:

Blessed with a nest egg of nearly $1.5 million, a Woodland Hills parish donated almost all of it, leaving just $1,000 in its savings account. An Encino church offered a $100,000 interest-free loan. And a Boyle Heights parish decided it could spare $500 after ruling out the idea of raising money with tamale sales.

With gifts large and small, parishes across the sprawling Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles are answering an appeal from Cardinal Roger M. Mahony to help the archdiocese dig out of the financial hole resulting from its multimillion-dollar legal settlements with victims of clergy sexual abuse.

“It’s important that we the church take care of this,” said Father Scott Santarosa of Dolores Mission Catholic Church in Boyle Heights, which gave the $500 from its limited unrestricted funds. “It’s like a family trying to take care of itself. Every family has parts that break down or need help. That’s part of the church too, and we can’t turn our backs.”

Some parishes have told the archdiocese they cannot contribute because they are too poor or in debt from construction projects or real estate purchases. Others have yet to decide, their pastors said in interviews. But whatever the circumstance, the choice is not easy, several said.

“Either way, it’s controversial,” said Msgr. David A. Sork, pastor of St. John Fisher Church in Rancho Palos Verdes, who said he is praying about the issue and consulting parish leaders but has not yet decided. “It’s a tough one.”

On the one hand, Sork said, his congregants are asking why they should pay for mistakes that occurred in other parishes, not theirs. “Or they say, ‘Why do we have to pay for something that happened 30 years ago?’ That’s hard for many to understand,” he said. “But not helping means the archdiocese’s services to all parishes, including this one, will be hampered.”

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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