Selecting a new pope isn’t the only thing that the church is making headlines for. A Los Angeles archdiocese has reached a settlement for $9.9 million over a child molestation lawsuit. Michael Baker, a former priest, was found guilty for abusing young boys on overnight trips in and around San Diego in the 1970’s and 1980’s.
The four boys, now men, had brought four separate civil suits against baker and Cardinal Roger Mahony, who is currently in Rome attending the papal conclave. The plaintiffs claim that Mahony was aware of the situation, yet failed to act. The four settlements range from $995,000 to 4 million.
The plaintiffs are aged everywhere from 24-54. The case reached a head in mid-winter, when the clergy released a 12,000 page document detailing their findings on child abuse. Reports claim that Michael Baker, who was tried and found guilty in 2007, was caught molesting young boys in 1986. Upon hearing this, Cardinal Mahony sent Baker to a rehabilitation clinic in New Mexico in the late 80’s, to no avail. The lawyers seeking to condemn Baker finally had their smoking gun, stating that “Mahony hand his fingerprints all over the case.”
One of the more intriguing parts of this settlement is that the archdiocese actually has about $10 million to spend. As someone who attended private Catholic school for 9 years as a child, the money is something I continue to think about as an adult. My hometown has been able to afford renovating our church and continues to pull tens of thousands of money each week in donations. Without sounding accusatory, where does the money go? I can’t help but think of the story where Jesus flipped the tables over of those who were allowing money to be unceremoniously changing hands.