Responding to claims from victims of sexual abuse that could exceed $100 million, the archdiocese of Boston has announced that it is considering filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Because it knew priests were sexually abusing parishioners, covered it up, and now refuses to pay for their sins.
In an unprecedented step, the bankruptcy would suspend indefinitely any payments in lawsuits, and bar new suits from being filed while the Archdiocese “reviews” its finances.
So far, there are 65 known priests in the Boston area who are suspected of abusing minors (the actual number is probably greater).
Out of the 65, it turns out that the Archdiocese knew about more than 50.
None of the priests were defrocked or referred to the proper authorities.
The Rev. Paul Shanley, a “street priest,” counseled runaways and then molested dozens of them.
For his crimes, Rev. Shanley was merely transferred from Boston to San Bernardino.
Apart from Rev. Shanley, there are many more abusers that the Archdiocese knew about.
The Rev. Robert Meffan was known for telling teenage girls to “link spiritual stages with sexual acts.”
The cocaine use of Rev. Richard A. Buntel of Malden was so well known that he was called the “blow king of Malden.”
Rev. Buntel allededly also had sex with at least one teenager and two adult men, considered making a porno film of him and the teenager for his drug dealers, and was known to trade cocaine for oral sex.
The Rev. Richard P. Forry, who allegedly beat his housekeeper to the point where she went to the hospital three times, carried on a long-term sexual relationship with a married woman, and also molested her son for good measure.
The Boston Archdiocese and Cardinal Bernard F. Law knew about all these cases.
However, all these priests were reassigned like Shanley. There were several multiple abusers like Buntel, who was accused so many times, by so many people, that the church put him on paid administrative leave.
Buntel had a letter of complaint written by Bishop Thomas V. Daily that confirmed that his superiors were aware of Daily’s “alcoholism,” “repeated drug use” and “rumored homosexual activity,” as well as the allegations that “he gave drugs to young people.”
Nonetheless, Law sat on the letter for more than 10 years, until finally, word of Buntel’s misdeeds came out in the press.
Despite this steady record of sexual abuse by priests, the Boston Archdiocese still refuses to pay restitution to victims.
Law, especially, has stood by these priests and even wrote them letters of support after they were reassigned to other parishes by church investigators.
Hiding behind bankruptcy is odious, especially for an Archdiocese that owns more than $1.3 billion in real estate holdings.
It’s time for Cardinal Law and the Archdiocese to confess to their sins and give their victims the restitution they deserve.
Neal Ungerleider can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org