The grand jury report on the Pittsburgh diocese sex abuse crisis “shows the church paid for therapy for many of the victims,” reported CNN/WPXI in August 2018 in “Priest abuse victim committed suicide, says sister.”
The diocese’s adequate funding for sexual abuse victims for counseling and therapy, regrettably and riskily, wasn’t as long-lasting as the anguish and needs of the victims.
Tellingly illustrating its spiritual verses financial priorities, the length of time of the diocese’s initial and sufficient funding for psychological support and healing of priest abuse victims was pointedly shorter than the length of time the diocese expended in silencing victims and covering up its sexual abuse problem.
The Pittsburgh diocese “cut off that funding for some victims,” explained the CNN/WPIX news report, producing a claim by an abuse victim’s sister that the reductions in funding and subsequently lower time limit per victim’s therapy treatments led her brother to kill himself.
Frances Samber, the priest abuse victim’s sister, said her brother, Michael Unglo, never had the opportunity to share his story of years of struggling after being sexually assaulted by his priest.
As regards the cuts in the church’s therapy payments for Unglo’s treatments, Samber described how her brother “was actually alerted during a therapy session” of the church’s funding cutback, and explained that “it kind of sent him into a spiral.”
Unglo took his own life a few weeks after the diocese mandated a shorter and cheaper amount of treatment that the church would fund, thereby lessening its expenses while concurrently lessening Unglo’s chances for recovery and longevity.
The grand jury report on priest sexual abuse in the Pittsburgh diocese and the ensuing and subsidized recovery treatments states the following: “In January 2015, assistance coordinator Rita Flaherty sent a letter to the victim’s former therapist which indicated that the diocese was moving towards a more time-limited approach to the therapy they would cover.”
Unfortunately for the victims of the sexual abuse, the duration of their anguish, self-guilt and torment was not as “time-limited” as the shortened amount of therapy the diocese was willing to provide under its cutback in victim’s care and healing.
As reported by WPIX/CNN about the position of the diocese concerning its reduced therapy subsidies and lessened monetary liabilities, as well as, one might contend, the diocese’s diminished religiousness, morality and status, as displayed by the priority it gave to public relations shenanigans and the almighty legal tender: “Diocese spokesman Father Ron Lengwin defended the policy” of the time-limited approach to counseling funding for priest abuse victims, sounding more like he was wearing green eye shades than a clerical collar. “When it reaches a million dollars you have to say, ‘Are you getting the right treatment? Do you still need it?,’ ” asked Lengwin.
Better questions: Why not include women and married men as priests? Why not rescind the requirement of celibacy for priests? It wasn’t until the 11th century that a papal decree required all priests to be celibate. Jesus, what ever happened to compassion and truthfulness, and the going into the temple of God and overthrowing the tables of the money changers?
Ralph R. Reiland is Associate Professor Emeritus of Economics at Robert Morris University and a Pittsburgh writer and restaurateur. His e-mail: [email protected]