After reading today’s newspaper, I felt compelled to write about Gerard Howell’s claim that U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Meredith Grabills’ order to cut off continued support to him by the Archdiocese of New Orleans was “draconian.”

Howell’s claims are baseless at best. He is not a victim and has been rewarded since he was forced to resign as a parish priest.

These priests and payouts on their behalf have caused otherwise faithful Catholics to turn away from the church and to cease contributing to it. Yet he was paid a generous “retirement” benefit despite the downturn in financial contributions to the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

On top of that, he received psychological or psychiatric treatments for which a lay person would have had to pay out of pocket; there are no such benefits covered by health insurance. In addition, the Archdiocese of New Orleans paid settlements to people he criminally victimized.

He had the audacity to write Archbishop Gregory Aymond “to find a ‘morally fair way to fulfill’ the ethical and legal obligations the Archdiocese had previously cited to make whole all retired priests who paid into the clergy retirement fund, regardless of whether they had been credibly accused.” In the private sector, those benefits would have been lost.

Howell always has the option of filing for welfare or to call upon his family for assistance. There comes a point where the Archdiocese of New Orleans must stop paying these predators in order to begin healing.

SALLIE ARNOULT

freelance writer

New Orleans