Aug 19, 2012

Costs of a scandal

Some statistics:
  • In the last 15 years, the American Catholic Church has spent about $48 on lawsuit settlements per US Catholic.
  • In California, the Catholic Church has spent about $371 on lawsuit settlements per California Catholic during the same period. 
  • Giving to the church is thought to have declined by 20 percent.
  • The church has spent about $212,500 on lawsuit settlements per priest who, according to the US bishops' conference, has been "not implausibly" accused of sexually molesting a minor. 
  • The amount paid in settlements per "not implausibly" accused priest works out to slightly more than 5 years of a priest's average salary in San Diego, California, to more than 7 years of a priest's salary in Montgomery, Alabama.
  • The California Catholic Church has "tens, if not hundreds, of thousands" of volunteers who work with children, according to the church's lobbying group.
  • The church was the only group to lobby against a California law requiring background checks on people volunteering to work with children, and extending the statute of limitations of child molestation.
  • Estimates of annual amounts the New York bishops spend on lobbying range from $100,000 a year to "well over $1 million."
  • Given those estimates, the New York bishops spend between 75 cents and $7.50 on lobbying per year for each recipient of its bi-weekly newspaper, Catholic New York.
  • The church spent roughly $4.48 billion more on the poor in 2010 than the median amount spent on lawsuit settlements in the last 15 years.
  • 62 percent of the money the Catholic Church spent on the poor came from local, state or federal government coffers.
The Economist reports:
"The sins involved in [the American Catholic Church's] book-keeping are not as vivid or grotesque as those on display in the various sexual-abuse cases that have cost the American church more than $3 billion so far; but the financial mismanagement and questionable business practices would have seen widespread resignations at the top of any other public institution."
Sources: The Economist, 'Earthly Concerns'; California Assembly Bill 1628; Yearly Data on Accused Priests; Pew Landscape Survey on religion in America; Catholic Church in the US demographics; priest's salary in San Diego, California; priest's salary in Montgomery, Alabama; Catholic New York circulation numbers.