The Roman Catholic Bishop of Vermont threatened to sue a catholic diocese in Indiana over sexual abuse by a priest, according to a report in The Burlington Free Press.
The story reports that Bishop Salvatore Matano threatened to sue Indiana’s Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese for failing to disclose information about prior sexual misconduct by Rev. Edward Paquette. The Diocese of Vermont subsequently paid $965,000.00 to a man that Paquette sexually abused in Vermont.
According to church documents filed with the court, the diocese had evidence that Paquette had molested boys in Massachusetts and then Indiana before being hired by the Vermont diocese in 1972.
In response to the threat of litigation from the Bishop of Vermont, Bishop John N. D’Arcy, the Bishop of the Indiana diocese, replied bluntly:
“The diocese of Burlington was made aware of his (Paquette’s) history from this diocese, and from other sources as well.”
The exchange of correspondence between the Bishops is, to put it politely, ironic.
The catholic church’s response, worldwide, to lawsuits involving allegations of sexual abuse has been to dogmatically deny any knowlege of priest’s past sexual misconduct.
But when it comes to litigation within the church itself the response is: “We knew about it. We told you about it and you hired him anyway!”
Too bad the church doesn’t extend this policy of full disclosure to it’s parishoners and the victims of sexual abuse by it’s priests.