The Price Of Sin

Priest abuse scandal. Roman Catholic church. Sex abuse. AP

In this holiest of weeks in the Catholic Church, this week of prayer and repentance before Easter, the wages of sin have a clear and costly price tag.

"It's a time of great suffering for the church, acts have been committed against our children," said New York's Edward Cardinal Egan.

For the New York Archdiocese, now in the early stages of a sex scandal, the whispers in the pews are more about moral bankruptcy.

But, reports CBS News Correspondent Byron Pitts, in Boston, where one pedophile priest has a name and a rap sheet, it has shifted to shouts and screams over dollars and cents.

The case of defrocked priest John Geoghan has already cost the Archdiocese more than $10 million. Now the church must come up with another $15- 30 million to settle recent lawsuits.

Mary Jo Bane, a Harvard Professor and practicing Catholic in Boston, says the Church's secrecy has led to mistrust.

"One of the huge tragedies about this scandal is that it is not only taking money, but energy. It's taking time away from the work that the church should be doing," she said.

That includes the work in Catholic Schools and Church run hospitals.

The Archdiocese of Boston isn't the first to face financial trouble because of these costly lawsuits. But they will have to face alone. The Vatican in Rome is not obligated to help. Nor is any other diocese in America.

Nationwide the sex abuse of children has cost the church more than $300 million: $5.2 million in Los Angeles, $18million in Lafayette, La., $50 million in Santa Fe, N.M. and $31 million in Dallas, where the original court order threatened to bankrupt the Dallas Archdiocese until a settlement was reduced. In the end, the diocese sold off property, including an abandoned school.

Richard Sipe, a leading expert on pedophilia and the priesthood has testified in several lawsuits.

"There's a growing and growing and growing dissatisfaction with the administration. And a growing dissatisfaction which I think is going to show in the pocketbook," he said.

It's already has in Boston. An annual multi-million dollar fundraiser traditionally held at Cardinal Bernard Law's home will be moved this year. Supporters were said to be uncomfortable with schmoozing with the Cardinal in public.

"Credibility is also, I think, more damaging than finances. You can always find ways of raising money," said Rev. Chris Coyne of Boston's Archdiocese.

The archdiocese insists no collection money will be used to pay off the lawsuits. Still, the cost of credibility in an institution built on faith as much finance could be higher than even a Cardinal can pay.

  • chris oregan

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