Yael T. Abouhalkah

New, national disgrace for KC’s Catholics

Updated: 2013-07-16T23:21:58Z

By Yael T. Abouhalkah

The Kansas City Star

It takes a lot to grab the national spotlight given the continued unfolding of the Catholic priests’ sexual abuse scandal, which seemingly has reached into every corner of this country with its disgusting revelations for years.

But Kansas City has managed to do it once again, in another embarrassment for Catholics in this city.

On Monday the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese decided to pay the eye-popping total of $2.25 million to settle a wrongful-death lawsuit. It had been filed by the parents of a boy who allegedly killed himself 30 years ago because of sexual abuse by a local priest.

The case gain national attention this week given the size of the settlement and the fact that the Catholic church apparently had decided it was culpable, in some way, for the boy’s death. The church settled the lawsuit just as a trial was about to begin, a trial that might have reached a verdict awarding even more money in the boy’s death.

The settlement follows the national news created last year when current Bishop Robert Finn was convicted for failing to report a priest suspected of child sexual abuse to police. That incident was rekindled yet again in a New York Times column just this weekend.

The settlement Monday came in the case of Brian Teeman, who was 14 when he died at his home in Independence from a gunshot wound. The Star reported that the $2.25 million settlement was “the largest ever for the diocese in a single priest sexual abuse lawsuit.”

Kansas City Catholics must wonder when this nightmare of revelations against older priests will end. And when their current leaders, including Finn, will take real responsibility for what has occurred.

Finn, for example, remains in charge of the diocese despite his conviction and the national shame it has brought on Kansas City’s Catholics.

People have said it for years, but it bears repeating: The stain created by the sexual abuse cases — here and in other cities — is made so much worse by the fact that the people convicted of the crimes were trusted by the children and parents in the Catholic Church.

These priests supposedly were doing God’s work.

Turns out, they were working for the devil — especially, sadly, in Kansas City.

To reach Yael T. Abouhalkah, call 816-234-4887 or send email to abouhalkah@kcstar.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/YaelTAbouhalkah.

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