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June 1, 2024 38 mins
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(00:00):
The Diocese of Fresno, California,the Roman Catholic Diocese, filed for Chapter
eleven bankruptcy, and I want tokind of talk about what that means and
why the Catholic Church in our communitycame to that decision. Now, I
don't have any particular insight. Ihaven't spoken with Bishop Brennan or anybody like

(00:27):
that about any of the inside detailsof this. I have no personal insight
into the particularities of the Diocese ofFresno other than what's already publicly known.
So I have no just want togive that proviso. I have no deep
insider knowledge. We might try actuallyto get Bishop Brennan on the show to

(00:49):
actually talk about it, but it'sso let me just make that clear that
I have no insider information or anythingof the sort. Mostly, what I
want to do is explain first whatthat means, because I mean, this
is the biggest Christian denomination, thebiggest religious denomination period in the San Joaquin

(01:14):
Valley. Probably a lot of youare Catholics. Help you to sort of
understand, like, what what doesbankruptcy mean? Does that mean the Catholic
Church is out of money? No? Basically, so basically, it'll allow
me to explain what Chapter eleven bankruptcyis and then why did we come to

(01:36):
this point, both in California specificallyand in the Catholic Church more broadly.
Okay, So the first thing tounderstand is how kind of the Catholic Church
is legally organized in the United States, how Catholic churches, how the Catholic
Church is organized under American law.So the Catholic Church throughout the world is

(01:57):
organized at the level of dioceses.Okay, a diocese, which before before
the Catholic Church was a particularly widespreadentity. The term diocese was a sort
of unit of organization of governance,organization developed by the Roman emperor Diocletian and

(02:22):
was then adopted by the Catholic Churchfor sort of setting up the I think
biblically grounded practice of having successors ofthe apostles overseeing individual communities. So Saint
James was the apostle who was overseeingJerusalem. And there's a tradition of different

(02:43):
apostles going to different places. SaintPeter went to Rome, Saint Thomas went
into the far East, almost toIndia. This apostle went here. This
apostle went there, et cetera.So this biblical tradition of apostle or successors
of apostles overseeing a specific community.The Catholic Church continued that tradition and called

(03:08):
the community that each apostle or successorof apostle aka a bishop overseas a diocese
okay, using the current at thetime terminology for a given political community,
for a given political community, andthey applied that to the jurisdiction that a
successor of the apostles has for agiven region. Okay. So the Catholic

(03:31):
Church is divided into dioceses. Sothere's the Diocese of Fresno, which extends
over a very large geographic region fromBakersfield and south of Bakersfield in the south
way up to Yosemite and at Waterand then Merced County way up in the

(03:54):
north Okay, as well as acouple of outline towns in the mountain in
the Sierra Nevada Mountains. So theDiocese of Fresno is a very very large
entity both geographically as far as thenumber of priests and the number of parishes.

(04:17):
So there are I think something likeeighty eight zero different churches and mission
churches. A mission would be likea smaller church that's administered by a larger
parish. So there's something like eightydifferent churches in the Diocese of Fresno,

(04:38):
with a large complement of priests toadminister them, and then a large number
of lay employees who work as parishsecretaries, as well as all of our
schools, So the Catholic schools havelots and lots of teachers, most of
whom are lay people. Beyond that, the Diocese of Fresno administers a lot

(05:03):
of property and financial holdings. Soevery parish, every individual church has property,
the actual property that the church ison, but very often there are
smaller properties around the church that,you know, maybe we bought this house

(05:24):
to serve as a rectory for theclergy, and then we have this property
over here that was a parking lot, and we have this building over here
that we're using for religious ed andstuff. So they have a lot of
properties. Every parish has kind ofa decent number of bank accounts with assets,
all of which is and and allof this, all these eighty churches,

(05:48):
all these employees, all of thesepriests, clergy who are in obviously
their role is a little different fromjust an employee, but they are also
employees. All of this is underone corporate entity. In the United States,
the way the Catholic Church set upwas that each diocese was its own

(06:15):
what's called a corporation soul, andthat's a very unique it's it's almost a
unique structure that was pretty much setup in American law for the Catholic Church.
So it's a nonprofit corporation. Butmost nonprofit corporations are governed by a

(06:36):
board of directors, okay most ofthe time. If you've got a five
O one C three like me,right to life, okay, Right to
Life Central California is a nonprofit fiveoh one C three corporation and we have
a board of directors who oversees thisentity. Well, the church doesn't work

(07:00):
like that because we believe that whatI was saying at the beginning, we
think that the governance of churches isgiven to the apostles and to their successors,
the bishops. Then we think theapostles were bishops, so we think
they're the same thing. So basically, well, a normal corporation wouldn't necessarily

(07:26):
work for a diocese because the bishopis the bishop needs to be the one
in charge exercising governance over a localchurch. So the concept of the corporation's
soul was formed. So basically whatthis means is the Diocese of Fresno is

(07:46):
a corporate. It's basically a corporation. It's a nonprofit corporation, but instead
of a board of directors, whichagain like Right to Life, has the
diece, he's a Fresno is acorporation soul, meaning only one person exercises
that governance over the corporation, andthat one person is the Bishop of Fresno.

(08:11):
The Bishop of Fresno gets appointed foran indefinite term of office. Catholic
bishops today in the Church have tosubmit their resignation upon reaching the age of
seventy five, and the Holy Fatherand the Pope either accepts their resignation or

(08:37):
he lets them keep going. Andthen when you have a vacancy, when
either the Pope accepts a bishop's resignation, or a bishop dies, or maybe
a bishop has some other reason thatforces him to retire or resign sooner than
age seventy five. You know,if say someone has a really terrible ill

(09:00):
and they just don't think they canexercise the duties of their office. The
Pope can replace them. The Popecan basically depose someone as a bishop if
he thinks that's necessary, if heyou know, usually the Pope would ask
someone to resign first before actually takingkind of the nuclear option of deposing them.

(09:22):
But the Pope ultimately appoints who theBishop of Fresno is. Okay.
So, but that's how the corporatestructure of the Dices of Fresno is.
The Bishop of Fresno controls the corporationsoul of the Dices of Fresno. So
what that means is that any Catholicdiocese is a huge corporate entity, just

(09:50):
in the sense of and I don'tmean that with like the negative connotations of
it it's an evil corporation. I'mjust saying it has a ton of properties,
a ton of employees, a tonof assets. It also doesn't have

(10:13):
and this is just my commentary onthis, it doesn't always have a ton
of professionalism or intelligence in certain respects. Now, the quality of men who
were picked to be bishops in bygonedecades was, I think, in many

(10:37):
cases, particularly in the United States, pretty poor. And this is what
brings us to the clergy sex abusescandal, which I'll talk about a bit
more in the next segment. Howyou had bishops, some of them kind
of softly liberal, but there werealso conservative men who did this stuff.

(11:00):
Two who looked at the problem ofclergy using their position to engage in sexual
conduct with minors, and they viewedit as like a moral weakness, a
moral failing, analogous to say,sleeping with the parish secretary. Okay,

(11:26):
sleeping with the parish secretary is obviouslybad. Priests failing to live up to
their promises of priestly celibacy is aproblem that has been happening, not to
most priests, not probably a smallminority of priests, but it has happened,
and in some ages and in somecountries worse than in others. That's

(11:50):
a moral failing that's been happening fora long time. If you hear the
priests slept with the secretary, doyou kick him out of the priesthood immediately
over it? Well, maybe not. You may work with the guy counseling,
think through like what do you reallywant to do this? You assign
him to less positions with less responsibility. You know, there's sort of ways

(12:18):
of dealing with that. And theproblem is that they took that sort of
model and applied it to priests whowere accused of something far worse, which
is abusing children. And I thinkit's also the difficulty that and I'm not
trying to excuse it at all byany sense, any of these people should

(12:41):
have known better. But it's alsosort of a lack of professionalism sometimes in
the caliber of men chosen to bebishops, to run dioceses, or to
be pastors, to run large parishes. You know, these guys, their
education is in philosophy and theology.It's not in business administration, it's not

(13:03):
in HR certainly, it's not inmanagement. And none of these guys are
very few of these guys have MBAs. Actually, when I graduated from Notre
Dame Law school at the same time, there was a bishop from Illinois who
got his MBA from the University ofNotre Dame's business school at the same time,

(13:24):
the same year that I was graduating. So I think there was in
many cases among these bishops sort ofthis. I don't know if it was
an old Regardless of the motives,they made these terrible, terrible decisions to

(13:46):
shuffle priests surround, and most ofthose kinds of decisions stopped. Almost all
of those kinds of decisions stopped aftertwo thousand and two, when the big
revelation were made about sexual abuse casesin the Archdiocese of Boston, Massachusetts.
After that time, the American bishopsinstituted new procedures, new safeguards that resulted

(14:15):
in these kinds of incidents being extraordinarilyrare, and even in the grand scheme
of things, sexual abuse of minorshappens more often with public schools than it
does with Catholic churches. Okay,it happens more often, there's more kids

(14:39):
have used in the context of publicschool, and it happens more often per
capita. Okay, But nonetheless it'sthis horrible, horrible thing the diocese of
So when we return, I'm goingto talk about the specifics of the Diocese
of Fresno, what Chapter eleven bankruptcyis going to mean, and the kinds

(15:01):
of cases the diocese is facing.The main thrust of it, though,
is that almost all of these casesare from a very long time ago that
didn't happen under Bishop Brennan's watch,and it's sort of it's sort of the
problem of you know, it's notBishop Brennan's fault, but unfortunately it is

(15:22):
now his task to deal with this, and unfortunately the task of Catholics today
to deal with the horrible mistakes ofyesterday. We'll be back with all of
that on the John jur already showright after this. The Catholic Diocese of
Fresno announced two days ago that theywould be filing for Chapter eleven bankruptcy.

(15:46):
And I want to describe what thatmeans. Chapter eleven bankruptcy does not mean
that the Diocese of Fresno has runout of money. As I described in
the last segment, a Catholic dioceseis a huge entity. It comprises in
the case of the Dices of Fresno, it comprises all of the churches and

(16:07):
all of the church properties, andall of the priests and all of the
lay employees, including it all ofthe Catholic schools from way up in Livingston
in the north, Livingston and YosemiteValley up in the north. Pastmer said,
all the way down to like Barstowin the south, the south of

(16:30):
Bakersfield, basically everything between the Ifive to the west and the Nevada border
to the east. Okay. Soit's a huge region that has a ton
of properties, a ton of assets, and basically every single parish has all
these bank accounts with donations from thelady. So the dices of Fresno is

(16:56):
sitting on a ton of assets.And I think this is why so often
these sex abuse claims are focused onCatholic churches. They have money, they
have assets. There's tons of evidenceof sexual abuse of minors taking place in

(17:19):
the context of other churches and otherChristian denominations. The thing is, most
Christian denominations are not set up legallythe way that the Catholic churches. Very
often with other Christian denominations. Evenif you're part of the Southern Baptist Convention,
let's say your church is just onechurch. Your the corporation, the

(17:42):
nonprofit corporation for you know, thethe main street Baptist church of you know,
Townsville, USA. Well, mostBaptist churches are set up as a
Baptist church, and that's the wholecorporate. The nonprofit corporation just controls that

(18:02):
Baptist church. It has maybe fourhundred thousand dollars of assets. If a
child is abused and I don't meanto make light of this, but this
is how these attorneys work. Ifa child's abused at a Baptist church versus
a child's abused at a Catholic church, which case do you think a lawyer
is going to focus on. He'sgoing to focus at the Catholic Church.

(18:26):
Why, because if you sue theCatholic Church, you can have access to
the assets of the entire Catholic dioceseswith all of its eighty parishes and all
of their bank accounts and all oftheir money. Versus you sue the Baptist
Church, you have you know,you're trying to get water from a rock.

(18:48):
And I think that's why, becausethe Catholic Church is set up like
that. All over the country,trial lawyers have correctly identified the Catholic Church
has deep pockets. And this isa very you know, this is a

(19:11):
target rich environment. This is aplace to sue that can result in a
ton of money. So the stateof California a couple of years ago opened
up a three year window over overtwenty twenty, twenty twenty one, and
twenty twenty two in which they allowedpeople who alleged that they had been sued

(19:36):
by Catholic priests in past years tofile a lawsuit, and they basically they
allowed the statute of limitations to bewaived. Basically, what that means is,
if you're sexually abused or really ifyou have any almost any kind of
legal claim to sue someone, youhave to bring your lawsuit within a certain

(20:00):
and time frame. And we callthat time frame the statute of limitations.
It's a statutory based in state lawlimitation on how far back you can hold
someone liable. Okay, you haveto bring your lawsuit within a certain timeframe,
and statutes of limitations. It's notjust some arbitrary legal rule. People's

(20:22):
memories fade over time. The abilityto collect evidence gets harder and harder and
harder as time passes by, asrecords get thrown out, as people's memories
fade, as people die. Sothe Diocese of Fresno is facing one hundred

(20:45):
and fifty four claims. One hundredand fifty four claims were filed against the
Diocese of Fresno for over the courseof that three year window when California eliminated
the Statute of limitations. All butthree of the claims happened before the year

(21:06):
two thousand and two when the Dicesof Fresno put in place new safeguards,
and the overwhelming majority, I thinkalmost all of the claims are against are
are allegations that of clergy abuse ofminors committed by members of the clergy who

(21:27):
are dead. These are things thatallegedly happened in the sixties, the seventies,
the eighties, so we're talking goingback forty to fifty years. In
many of these cases, the priestis dead, most of the witnesses are
dead, and so but the diocesehas all these claims. These people were

(21:52):
allowed to bring their lawsuits and sothe diocese has to They're facing down the
barrel of one hundred and fifty fourLAS lawsuits. So what Chapter eleven bankruptcy
does it? Basically, it organizesthings, okay, so it allows you
to keep operating the business. Thecourt has some supervision though over your assets,

(22:15):
and it's a thing of where youget all of the claimants in one
room together metaphorically, So basically whatthey don't want if you have if you
owe money to like thirty different people, the person who's first in line shouldn't
get all of his money. Butthe person who happens to be twenty eighth
in line doesn't get any of hismoney. Similarly, here I think the

(22:37):
idea is, well, don't givethe first claimant, you know, a
twenty million dollar reward, and thenthere's no money left for the one hundred
and fifty fourth claimant. So asthe process of adjudicating these claims is undertaken,
the assets of the dices will besort of overseen, and it's a
thing of you know, how isthis going to impact my parish? Well,

(23:00):
it seems hard to say. Someof the Catholic schools of the diocese
are slightly separate, have a slightlyseparate corporate entity from the diocese itself.
Certain Catholic schools are overseen by aseparate corporation. Similarly, Catholic Charities of
the Diocese of Fresno, the nonprofitwhich helps provide food for people and is

(23:22):
kind of tied to the Catholic Church. Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Fresno
is also kind of a separate corporation. It's fine, but as far as
individual perishes, it seems likely thatit's not going to get to the level
of, you know, selling offyour church that seems highly unlikely, but

(23:44):
you know, there's going to probablybe some financial pain for the Catholic Church.
Exactly what form that takes, I'mnot exactly sure. When I return,
I want to talk about how Ihave digested these things as a Catholic
and maybe how some of you do. Next on the John Girardi Show,

(24:04):
as I've been discussing the Diocese ofFresno's looming Chapter eleven bankruptcy, I wanted
to kind of give my take onhow as a Catholic I'm digesting all this
and kind of my approach to howI viewed all of the sex abuse stuff
before. So I guess I'll saythis, Catholicism's view of salvation is not

(24:38):
sort of the Calvinist Reformed view wherethe elect demonstrates signs of election, And
I think I don't want to gettoo much into any kind of contentious sort
of theological argument between Catholicism and otherChristian denominations, but basically, I think

(25:07):
sometimes there's a number of Christian denominationsthat sort of believe in one saved,
only saved, and that once youmake an act of faith in the modern
context, and a lot of evangelicalchurches. Well, I accept Jesus Christ
with my personal Lord and savior.Therefore my salvation is assured. And then
when people do that, but thenafter the fact do some really bad thing,

(25:33):
do some horrible thing, and thethought is, well, that their
initial act of faith wasn't sincere enough. And I've always sort of thought that
was And again I'm not maybe Ifully acknowledge that there are probably other Christians
of other denominations who are hearing medescribe this and disagreeing with my characterization,

(25:59):
but I just never have thought thatthat makes sense. As far as salvation,
I don't know that our salvation isso secure in this world. I
know God's action is secure and faithful, and that's the grounding of the Christian
virtue of hope, but that wehave to order our lives in cooperation,

(26:26):
that we have to cooperate with thegraces that are given to us, and
we you know, we cooperate withthose graces, and our faith has to
be active through how we live outthat faith. The whole epistle of Saint
James goes into great detail about faithwithout works being dead and how works aren't

(26:49):
like a separate thing that it's anextension of our faith, living out your
faith. And so I'll confess alot of Catholics stopped going to church as
a result of the sex abuse claims. I think they thought, this is
so horrible, how could this be? I don't want to give these people

(27:11):
another cent. I understand that impulseto some extent, but I think it's
also to say I am scandalized thatmen working for the church, that Catholic
leadership in this country in this context, committed these sins. Therefore, I'm

(27:33):
not going to go to church.I think it sort of misunderstands what the
role of the church is. Thepromise is not that once you believe in
Christianity, everyone's going to be everyone'sgoing to be perfect. The church is

(27:57):
a hospital for sinners, it's nota hotel for saints. And in every
era, you're going to have peoplein leadership in the church who do bad
things. You're going to have leadershipin the church who do great things.

(28:21):
You'll have great Christian and Catholic leaders. You'll have great men like John Paul
the Second, and you'll have greatmen like the Apostle Paul and the Apostle
Peter. But you'll also sometimes havemediocre men who are a mixture of good
and bad, like Peter. Imean, you look in the Act of
the Apostles, Peter was not Hedid not have a one hundred percent approval

(28:44):
rating, certainly not from Saint Paul. They disagreed with each other, and
Peter acted in times in a kindof waffly fashion. That's why I'm also
not always so scandalized by stuff thatPope Francis says or does that upsets.
People were never guaranteed to have agreat pope. I mean, God knows,
there have been some terrible popes inthe history of the Catholic Church.

(29:08):
And there are popes who had mistressesand children out of wedlock, and we're
you know, governing the papal stateson horseback and leading cavalry charges. I
mean, some popes were terrible popes. I think for the most part,
we've got a pretty good batting averagewith popes being decent guys. But you
have some popes who are terrible atgoverning. You have some popes who are

(29:30):
very exemplary and then with exemplary personalholiness, but we're just bad at administrating.
And and you have some popes whowere not very good people, but
were decent administrators. And then youget some of these rarities, like these
rare gems like Pope Benedict, whoI think we're pretty good at both.

(29:52):
Then you know it. We're notpromised in this world that members of the
church. It's certainly not from theCatholic perspective, and maybe for this part
we'll speak to fellow Catholics. We'renot promised that the members of the church
will always be faithful. What weare promised is that the Church will not

(30:14):
fail in her essential mission, thatChrist is always faithful, and that what
the Church proclaims is true, thatthe teachings given to us by sacred scripture,
by sacred tradition, the unanimous testimonyof the fathers of the Church has

(30:40):
passed down through Catholic teaching over thecenturies. That is true, and that's
not impacted by individual priests and bishopsmaking terrible, terrible decisions. So on
a supernatural level, when I seeone hundred and fifty four claims of sexual

(31:00):
abuse against priests, that the diceis a fresno asked to go into Chapter
eleven bankruptcy in order to resolve doI say enough with this whole enterprise.
No, I need the Catholic Churchfar more than the Catholic Church needs me.
I need the grace of the sacraments. I need the true faith,

(31:22):
and that's what I believe the CatholicChurch has. And obviously those of you
who aren't Catholics, who are maybeof other denominations, you don't have that
same conviction. But I do.And I guess what I would say to
my fellow Catholics is, don't abandonthe ship because of poor decisions that were

(31:45):
made by a bunch of bishops andpriests who are dead. And that's the
main thing. These one hundred andfifty four claims or one hundred and fifty
something claims that the dice is ofFresno has to manage as to that have
to be adjudicated. Essentially, allof them involved priests who are now dead

(32:10):
and bishops who are now dead.I will say this about Bishop Brennan is
that he's one of the finest Catholicpriests, one of the finest Christians I've
ever met, and that I lovehim dearly and I think he's I would

(32:34):
rather have him overseeing this than anybody. So, even just on the level
on a human level, not talkingabout, you know, a sort of
supernatural level, having faith in thischurch that I believe Christ handed down for
us, the Catholic Church, juston a human level. I trust this

(32:57):
Bishop. This past Saturday, theDiocese of Fresno ordained six young men to
the priesthood. Bishop Brennan ordained themat the big Saint Charles Borromeo Church in
Bysalia, which is this huge newparish that was just built in Visalia.
And a lot of the stuff I'vebeen reading, there's been this big piece

(33:20):
in the ap a couple of weeksago I talked about a little bit on
the show. Trevor was sharing itwith me and asking me about it.
The future of the Catholic Church inAmerica, I think is quite bright because
we've had now like a decade anda half up to almost two decades now

(33:40):
where almost all of the priests who'vebeen ordained over this stretch are young men
who are absolutely on fire for theGospel of Christ, who were inspired by
the life an example in teaching ofJohn paulcond and Benedict the sixteenth. The
Old Old Faded nineteen sixties, feltBanner's Catholicism that unfortunately that I was born

(34:07):
into and grew up with, isfading. I look at, you know,
like my own parish or Lady ofPerpetual Help, and see a dynamic,
faithful young pastor who is doing thesewonderful things and boldly proclaiming Christ's truth.

(34:30):
And I see that this is inthe pastor before him was also quite
good. By the way, I'mnot not trying to I'm not trying to
blast anybody, but I see aCatholicism in America where the future is honestly
quite bright in many many respects.So if you're a Catholic listening to this

(34:52):
and you're dismayed, oh my gosh, it's facing Chapter eleven bankruptcy. First,
on a human level, I don'tthink it's not going to mean that
the diocese is going to cease tofunction, that your parish is going to
be sold off. I don't thinkit's going to get to that level.
A lot of this is just aboutorganizing these one hundred and fifty four claims
and proceeding in an orderly fashion.But I would also say, on both

(35:13):
a supernatural level and a human level, this has not shaken my faith in
the Catholic Church, and I'm goingto stick with her until the day that
I die. When we return theDepartment of Labor apparently does not know what
a woman is and also does notknow what HR problems are. Next on

(35:34):
the John Girardi Show, the ObamaLabor not the Obama Labor Department. Excuse
me, the Biden Labor Department.Funny, How funny? How that mistake
I keep making? The Biden USDepartment of Labor sent out this tweet yesterday.
Yesterday, menstruation affects half the USworkforce, but talking about it at

(35:59):
work can be taboo. For MenstrualHygiene Day, here are five easy actions
employers can take to help menstrutors menstruatorsm E N S t R U A
t O r S thrive at workhashtag period friendly world. So what everyone's

(36:23):
dunking on here? What everyone's slamminghere is the Department of Labor referring to
women as menstruators, as if thatis respectful towards women. Hey, well,
for all the menstruators in the office. But also there's this beyond the

(36:51):
absurdity and just the complete denial ofthe existence of women, that we're not
going to call them women. We'rejust going to call them menstruators because of
you know a couple of guy,you know, a couple of women who
dress up like guys and don't wantto be called women. Menstruation affects the

(37:13):
US half the US workforce, buttalking about it at work can be taboo.
Of course, talking about it atwork is taboo, first of all
for women. How many women inthe workforce want to be just openly chit
chatting with you know, half theworkforce which is male, about their periods.

(37:36):
I think it's a pretty darn smallpercentage. Secondly, all the men
in the US workforce, if anyof them bring it up, Hey,
on your period it's an HR violation. Like did Michael Scott write this tweet
from the US Department of Labor?I mean, like talk asking a female
employee about about her periods seems likesomething only Michael Scott would do from from

(38:02):
the office. Like this is ofcourse it's taboo. It's an HR violation
for half the American workforce to evenbring it up. That'll do it for
John Girardi show, see y'all nexttime on Power Talk.
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