NEW ORLEANS (LA)
Big Easy Magazine [New Orleans LA]
March 12, 2021
By Michael David Raso
The Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans has been in the news for a variety of reasons lately. First was their stance against taking the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine saying that it was “morally compromised” for using stem cells coming from aborted fetal tissue.
Currently, the Church appears to be skirting its responsibilities regarding its abominable record of child molestations, having filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy; this, despite having assets worth over half a billion dollars.
Referring to that bankruptcy filing, Richard Windmann, the president of Survivors of Childhood Sex Abuse, says, “I thought it was a cowardly act. Greg Aymond has been dodging depositions in state civil cases for a long time.” Gregory Michael Aymond is the 14th Archbishop of the Diocese of New Orleans. “A judge finally ordered him to attend the deposition, and they filed bankruptcy two days later. It is nothing but a litigation tactic to 1) pay victims a pittance, and 2) keep Greg Aymond from attending depositions and testifying in court. They are INDEED solvent, so this bankruptcy was filed in bad faith.”
The Archdiocese and the court set a deadline for those abused by priests. Time has run out for those who claim they were sexually assaulted by priests; the deadline for those who wanted to make a claim ended on March 1st.
About those who missed the March 1st deadline, Windmann says, “At this point, the only thing they can do is to reach out to us so we can provide resources and support. I feel horrible for the victims that missed the deadline. I know of seven victims who had plenty of time to file, but they couldn’t get past the paperwork. Writing in detail about their sex abuse as children is very difficult to do, and these seven victims could not do it with having a mental breakdown.”
According to the Archdiocese, “All total, the archdiocese received approximately 430 commercial claims and approximately 400 sexual abuse claims.” While this may seem like a large number, it must be kept in mind that the Archdiocese of New Orleans is comprised of 107 parishes making up 137 churches, served by 387 priests with a population of 372,037 Catholics served. In addition, there are deacons and other staff positions held. In 2018, 57 Clergy were “credibly” accused of abuse in the Archdiocese. That number is now more than 70. The number of those abused is likely far higher than we may ever know.
We may never know the identities of the victims, the specific acts, or the true totality of damage done, as according to the Archdiocese, “Information regarding the sexual abuse claims remains under a court-ordered seal to protect the identity and privacy of the individuals making the claims.”
For now, none of the current priests in the Archdiocese appear to have been involved in abuse, with the Archdiocese stating, “The ongoing review of the claims has not yielded new information that would result in the suspension or removal of a clergyman assigned to active ministry.”
For those who have been abused by the church, and what can be done besides monetary compensation, Windmann says, “First off, NEVER go to the church. Victims and Survivors, without exception, have CPTSD, depression, and some also have dissociative disorder. Just about all of them self-medicate with alcohol and drugs. And when that doesn’t work, suicide. They live a life of PURE hell until they can’t take it any longer. Our organization can help with resources and support. For a better explanation of a Victim and Survivors can be found at: https://www.scsaorg.org/survivor_profile”