Church Leaders in New Orleans Defraud the Government, SNAP Is Not Surprised Since We Believe They Defraud Survivors As Well

According to reports, the Archdiocese of New Orleans is being forced to pay the U.S. government $1 million in order to resolve allegations that they defrauded the government of emergency funds in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. This is yet another sad story that shows Catholic officials care more about money than they do about being moral leaders.


It is worth noting that the Archdiocese of New Orleans is supported by one of New Orleans's richest families, the Bensons, who also own the New Orleans Saints. The family has given tens of millions of dollars to the Archdiocese and also provided in-kind donations, such as supplying their PR team to help advise Church leaders regarding their strategy to defeat claims made by sexual abuse survivors.

With all this money– stolen or otherwise – sloshing around in the coffers of the New Orleans Archdiocese, how is it that the Archbishop can claim it is bankrupt? The short answer is, they clearly are really not. The Archdiocese has cash, owns the property, and apparently can afford a $1 million payment and whatever legal fees it needed to defend its behavior. Once again, the priorities of Catholic officials in New Orleans are laid bare.


We believe that the money that New Orleans church leaders are alleged to have stolen from US taxpayers should be identified and earmarked for survivors. Studies show that each case of sexual abuse carries a lifetime cost of nearly $800,000, a burden most often borne by taxpayers. Because FEMA money IS taxpayer money, the federal bankruptcy court should endeavor to find it and allocate it to those injured by clergy sex abuse. This would be the most poetic way to force Catholic officials in New Orleans to remember they are in place to serve their community, not steal from it.

Showing 2 comments

  • Aaron Hebert
    commented 2021-11-16 23:01:19 -0600
    I am the John Doe named in civil court papers filed by my attorneys. I was sent to give a deposition in April of 2021, but the Archdiocese declared bankruptcy one week before my testimony. The Archdiocese is MORALLY bankrupt not financial bankrupt.

    In 1967-68, I was a 13 year old eight grader at St. Joseph’s Catholic elementary school located in Gretna, LA. I have attended St. Joseph since kindergarten.
    I was a average student who loved class and playing sports, both for the school in the Archdiocese of New Orleans CYO program and at school recess.
    It was during this year that Father Lawrence Hecker, the assistant pastor at St. Joseph Church, took several of us school athletes into the church sactriscy with the intent to show us athletes what a hernia examination would be like when we go into high school athletics. Father Hecker told us to drop our pants and underwear as he groped our genitals.
    None of us boys reported the incident to anyone because we respected that Father Hecker was a person of authority and above all a priest.
    After this incident, it was a joke among us classmates that we called Father Hecker as “Hecker the Pecker Checker”.
    As years passed, I always stayed in touch with my fellow grade school classmates. Our graduating class was close knit as we can say we have been friends for many up to 59 years.
    Several years ago, one of those close friends asked if I would be a witness in his legal case against the Archdiocese of New Orleans because of the abuse incurred by Father Hecker. At first I was hesitant, then I asked if he could talk about the abuse he suffered under Father Hecker. He told me of the homosexual atrocities Father Hecker committed on him and the demons he had been fighting all these years. To say I was taken aback was an understatement. My sincere heart felt sorrow went out to my friend that he had to endure the abuse afflicted upon him. After our discussion, I told him I would be a witness.
    Afterwards I started to have guilt feelings and nightmares about what happened back in 1967-68. Especially after several of my friends who were alter boys told me of their abuse at the hands of Father Hecker. I felt that if I could have told someone, somebody, even my parents, that perhaps Father Hecker would be held accountable for what he done to our innocence. Even more so the guilt I felt after I saw that Father Hecker was on the list of pedofile priests and was moved from church parish to church parish by the Archdiocese and who knows how many other children he abused. I resent the Archdiocese of New Orleans for not taking punitive criminal action against these priests and not being honest and upfront about the sexual abuse within the Archdiocese of New Orleans. There was no transparency, rather it was all swept under the rug. Recently the Archdiocese of New Orleans has declared bankruptcy. In my opinion, the Archdiocese of New Orleans is morally bankrupt, not financially bankrupt.
    To this day, I am going through continued psychiatric consoling and prescribed medication for depression, anxiety and recurring nightmares. I still get upset when I see allegations and news of sexual abuse perpetrated by pedofile priests.
    Through all that I have been through, I have lost faith in the Catholic Church, but not my Catholic Faith.
  • Michael McDonnell
    published this page in Official SNAP Media Statements 2021-11-16 16:21:42 -0600

SNAP Network is a GuideStar Gold Participant