Letter: How is the Erie diocese funding costs associated with clergy abuse scandal?

Erie Times-News [Erie PA]

June 10, 2021

The Catholic Diocese of Erie recently announced spending $16.6 million on payouts to victims of sexual abuse in the diocese. That was in addition to $750,000 spent during the term of Donald Trautman, included in another $15 million in expenses. In that total, there is over $12 million in attorney’s fees alone defending the churches crimes and for sexual abuse case research.

They spent over $2 million on the Rev. David L. Paulson case alone. Bishop Lawrence Persico continues to claim he is using a line of credit to prevent the diocese from using parishioner’s donations to pay victims. Note he carefully says the monies used to “pay victims,” while knowing about $15 million were spent in other defensive areas. The use of the compensation fund system shields the diocese from having to reveal their assets and from victims knowing how much the diocese is worth in my opinion.

The issue is not over, as the diocese has over 31 abuse lawsuits still pending. Bishop Persico founded his term on being transparent but in my view continues to issue incomplete data and says that donations were not used for victim payout.

All this begs the question: How will this loan, a line of credit is a loan, be paid back, what were the detailed terms of the loan? He separates the sections spent and never states exactly how paying from the diocese historic investments is different than using donated funds. Then there is the $15 million, how was that paid and with what funds? I suggest that all funds of the diocese come from donations, that includes investments and gains from investments. Persico is in my view splitting hairs and providing confusing data as a means of minimizing and downplaying this crisis. No transparency here. Sadly, it speaks to the way the church got itself into this fix, minimizing, lying, denying and downplaying the truth.

Edward T. Brennan, Harborcreek