I stood proudly on my toes as the song leader directed us to a hymn of praise. Unfortunately, I was too young to read the words but it didn’t stop me from pretending. As loud as I could, or at least as loud as could be expected of any 4 year old, I sang “Lead on o kinky turtle, the month of March has come”.
Hopefully, I was blending in with the rest of the congregation. I certainly wasn’t trying to be disrespectful to the song. However, that’s how the words, “Lead on O King Eternal, the day of march has come“, sounded to me. From my point of view, with head barely at eye level to the pew, I was seeing and hearing and singing it, with great determination.
I am now going to tackle a controversial topic that involves the allegations of child abuse and the Catholic Church. Normally, I don’t dip into tremendous controversy, but in my eyes, it is really hard to see any defense for any of that conduct. Usually, the reason that I read the articles on these events really relates to my questions of “Who knew what and when?” In addition, was there an intent of cover-up, from those in high places.
As a law firm, we have not been involved in any of these claims or litigation. In that context, I was interested to read a CNN article that identifies one specific lawyer as the driving force behind this litigation. Based on the article, it is thought that he is responsible for a big chunk of the $2.5 billion dollars, that has been paid by the US Catholic Church, to date, to settle sex abuse cases.
Here is where I am fascinated by the point of view. Those defending the church as spokesmen or lawyers, attack this lawyer. They basically say that he is more interested in publicity than justice. As the President of the Catholic League for Civil Rights put it, that lawyer “has sued the Vatican many times and never won”. The Vatican’s lawyer says that Jeff Anderson, the lawyer responsible for these lawsuits and the ones now proceeding against the Vatican directly, says that Anderson lawsuit has no merit and is just a publicity stunt to rehash old claims. (Associated Press) I guess “winning” is not the same as making them pay settlements. Another point of view.
I have condensed these articles into a brief blog. I think it’s something worth thinking about. On one hand, there is a lawyer that has made it his practice, since the early 80’s, to hold the Catholic Church accountable for the actions of Priests such as the Massachusetts Priest, James R. Porter, who admitted to having molested some 50-100 children. On the other hand are those who believe that this lawyer is nothing but a publicity hound whose motives have no good basis in fact, because he is attempting to blame the Vatican for things for which there is no responsibility.
In the play “King Henry VI”, William Shakespeare penned the words that that have been repeated, almost as a joke, to clean up society by “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers”. In fact, the context of the scene and lines was Dick the Butcher adding to the promises of the traitor, Jack Cade. What was really being said is not to clean up society by getting rid of all the lawyers; but this was a method, to make sure that tyranny would rule.
I have seen many surveys on what the general public thinks of lawyers. Usually, the statistics show that lawyers are thought of in line with politicians and used car salesmen. Many people, though, will say that they don’t like lawyers but they like their lawyer. In the context of this story, it seems that this one lawyer, Jeff Anderson, has made a difference. He has made a difference in accountability and, I don’t think that attacks or him, his motives or his methods, carry much weight when it involves these horrific allegations of child abuse. I hope you’ll let me know your thoughts from your perspective.