Rosario: On church settlement, true heroics and newspaper and trucking woes
By Rubén Rosario
June 03, 2018
Things that made me scratch, nod or shake my head this past week:
A settlement for all seasons — $210,290,724. That’s the price tag the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis agreed to shell out to compensate more than 440 clergy sex abuse survivors after declaring bankruptcy three years ago. The settlement was the largest involving a Roman Catholic Church archdiocese that has filed for bankruptcy protection. It was reached after more than three years of “long and contentious” negotiations among an army of lawyers representing the archdiocese and insurance companies and the attorneys working with a survivors committee.
“This is a story of trauma to triumph and the pursuit of truth and accountability,” St. Paul-based attorney Jeff Anderson said during an emotional news conference Thursday.
The litigation, he noted, revealed 91 offenders and top church officials and their role in keeping a lid on or “managing” the sex abuse scandal. Of course, the lawyers on both sides will get their cut. But imagine if the church hierarchy here or in many other locales had done the right and moral thing: blow the whistle on the abusive clergy in their midst instead of transferring pedophile priests from one parish to another. Imagine if their first priority had been to protect and offer help to the child victims and their families instead of paying them under the table for their silence.
Imagine if they would have called authorities and defrocked the predators instead of covertly sending them to rehab and bringing them back into the fold with little clue that they would probably victimize again. I believe in forgiveness with some limits, but I also believe in accountability and protecting victims.
Then, I believe, the church I was raised in would have had far more in the collection plate kitty to continue to do good work here and elsewhere instead of paying legal fees and selling off buildings and assets. Perhaps the good priests, and there are many, would not have to walk around with the albatross of suspicion. Perhaps the church would not be in the position it still is in — trying to reclaim moral authority or delivering finger-pointing homilies that sometime ring hollow or hypocritical now with quite a number of former parishioners who have left the church because of these scandals. If they learned their lesson, it has come not only at a very high price, but on the backs and scarred souls of survivors who are still dealing with or have overcome significant trauma.
Hero video highlight of the week: No question. It was 22-year-old Malian migrant Mamoudou Gassama, the man dubbed the “French Spiderman.” Gassama was passing by on the street in front of a Paris apartment complex when he spotted a 4-year-old boy dangling from a fourth-floor balcony. Gassama scaled the facade of the four floors in about 30 seconds and grabbed the child in time. The boy’s father, who left the boy home alone and was seen playing Pokémon Go on his way back, is facing charges. Gassama had a far better day. He met France’s president, who granted him citizenship on the spot and offered him an internship job on a fire brigade. The video of this man’s heroics is jaw-dropping.
Keep on Trucking — I mean this in two ways. Career Cast, an online jobs site, came out with its annual best and worst jobs in the U.S. The site ranks jobs based on four key criteria: Growth outlook, work environment, income and stress. Last year, “newspaper reporter” ranked dead last. This year, the ink-stained wretches of America, some of whom I call my friends and colleagues, came in third-worst. Taxi driver, apparently affected by the rise of Uber and Lyft, took the worst spot. You talking to me? Well, yes. Logger was second-worst in the survey.
I took a quick peek at the top three best jobs. They are, respectively: Genetic counselor, mathematician and university professor. OK. They make more money, their stress level is reportedly less than newspaper grunts, and their job growth prospects are on the uptick. But are they truly happy? I have no doubt I have the more entertaining and outlandish war stories to share at the local watering hole, though I would expect them to pick up the tab.
Now it’s no secret the newspaper industry has been treading water financially in many areas for more than a decade. I’m having a blast regardless of what this site says. But if it comes to an end, I plan to call Joyce and Todd Brenny. They own a trucking firm in St. Cloud. Their company’s motto? “People Over Profits.” How refreshing that sounds.Joyce was quoted in a Washington Post story this week about the severe shortage of truck drivers and how it could lead to a price increase in shipping costs and more delays in deliveries. According to the American Trucking Associations, 51,000 more drivers are needed to meet business demands. Joyce Brenny told the paper that many of her drivers make $80,000 a year or more. Yet, in spite of increasing pay 15 percent, she is still struggling to find drivers for her company. I’m even keel behind the wheel, Joyce, in case this gig ends, hopefully never.