The recent settlement of a malpractice lawsuit filed by the Diocese of Spokane against its long-time outside counsel should be viewed as another example of a bishop who, while professing to reflect the new direction set by Pope Francis, does not by his actions truly walk the talk.
The Spokane Catholic diocese, while under the leadership of Bishop Blasé Cupich - now archbishop in Chicago - spent two-and-one-half years, and who knows how many wasted dollars, because he was, according to the deposition of former vicar general Father Steven Dublinski, "throwing mud at Paine-Hamblen to see if any mud sticks."
Dublinski resigned over his differences with Cupich.
But the settlement announced January 22 leaves no other conclusion than none of the "mud" stuck.
Cupich, who denies making the mud-on-the-wall comment, was trying to explain his lawsuit against the diocese' long-time outside counsel, Paine Hamblen, which served the diocese for many years. Shortly after arriving in Spokane, Cupich says he asked for a review of the firm's work regarding a diocese bankruptcy filing. In particular, Cupich thought the settlement did not fully anticipate future claims from those abused by diocese priests. The potential consequence would be insufficient funds to handle new cases.
The malpractice suit might have concluded with a pre-trial settlement or a jury award of damages to the diocese.
Everybody knows lawyers are covered by malpractice insurance, so the individuals in the firm would not pay personally. Reputations, though, are priceless, and the lawsuit put that of the partners at Paine Hamblen at risk.
Whatever the archbishop believed, it is up to individual members of the laity, as well the diocese' priests and nuns, to decide whether he was sincere or insincere. The settlement, the actual terms of which have not been disclosed, would appear to be a complete vindication for of the law firm.
One cannot help thinking that if more Catholic bishops across the country would truly take a cue from Pope Francis and follow his lead, walk the talk, act with humanity, humility and with a dose of common sense, the Catholic Church would be in much better standing.
Another example of this need to use common sense and act humanely towards all is the behavior of the bishop of the Fort Wayne/Indianapolis diocese. Two years ago, he fired a married, veteran Catholic teacher in the diocesan high school for violating the morals clause of her contract. Her sin? (more…)