Dioceses' answers hard to believe


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When Greensburg Bishop Edward Malesic and an assortment of aides, including two monsignors and a lawyer, came to the Tribune-Review in November, there was surprise that anyone would think the various Pennsylvania dioceses had been coordinating their responses to Attorney General Josh Shapiro's grand jury report on child sex abuse in the Catholic Church.

Oh, no, they said. There was no coordinaton. There was no playbook for how the various bishops should respond. They were not making sure they were all on the same page — exactly the kind of thing that would make it easy to hide 70 years or so of abuse with nondisclosure agreements and “secret archives."

But on that same day, all of the dioceses released information within an hour or so about a victim conpensation fund.

Now it is happening again as seven of the eight dioceses — including Pittsburgh and Greensburg — and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia have announced they are all using the same Washington-based firm to handle the payouts to victims.

Let's be fair. Kenneth Feinberg's firm is the gold standard of these kind of funds, with a track record in both how long the work has been done and the recognizable atrocities that have been handled. They sorted through the victims of Sept. 11, the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the Boston Marathon bombing and, closer to home, Penn State's payouts in the wake of Jerry Sandusky's child sex trial.

This is not the kind of firm you find in the phone book next to someone advertising an affordable uncontested divorce.

But as people continue to struggle with the bishops' believability, it is hard to reconcile these actions, even when understandable, with diocesan statements.

To make it clear, people just want to be told the truth, even if it doesn't sound great. But they could try.

“Yes, we talk to each other," they could say. “Yes, we are horrified by what happened, and we all just want to try and do what is right, and sometimes that means we have to talk to each other, and we have tried to plan a solution that makes sense. Yes, we know that sounds bad, and we are sorry, but we just want to be honest."

Maybe it would be believed. Maybe it wouldn't. It couldn't sound less believable than the answers so far, though.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review



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