Catholic Church Defends Pedophile Priests, Crusades Against New Sex Abuse Victims Protections

Author: July 21, 2013 5:49 pm

If you were hoping for the day when the Catholic Church would stop standing with pedophile priests and begin standing with their victims, you’ll have to wait. California lawmakers have been working tirelessly on a bill that would strengthen protections for the victims of pedophile priests by lifting the statute of limitations on reporting sexual abuse for a group of people who may have missed the previous deadline.

According to the Huffington Post,

Senate Bill 131 would permit many victims who would otherwise be unable to file a civil suit due to time and age restrictions… to sue their abuser’s employer in civil court.

The proposed law would lift the statute of limitations for one year for the group of alleged victims who were 26 and older and missed the previous deadline.

It all goes back to 2011, when the California Supreme Court ruled against five brothers who attempted to a bring a suit against the Catholic Church decades after a priest sexually abused them. The brothers repressed the painfully memories all that time until they were finally able to remember and pinpoint the abuse as the root of their constant distress. However, the court ruled that they would be unable to bring their lawsuit, even though the priest had admitted to abusing at least two of the brothers before dying in 2010, because the statute of limitations had run out.

It may be too late for the brothers to get justice for themselves, but it won’t be too late for other victims if the state government of California has anything to say about it. The ruling of the court inspired lawmakers to introduce a bill designed to lift the limitations for a year so that newly discovered victims can come forward and sue the Catholic Church, as happened in 2003.

The Catholic Church, however, adamantly opposes the bill and is leading a crusade against it. The California Catholic Conference of Bishops has spent tens of thousands of dollars in an effort to kill the legislation, and Archbishop of Los Angeles Jose Gomez is trying to organize Catholics against it, saying that it would harm social services and education work that the Church performs. Unfortunately, many Catholic priests don’t just perform social services and educational work, they also prey upon children who are so traumatized that they repress the horrible abuse for years,¬†even decades,¬†before they are able to come forward and attempt to get justice. The Catholic Church and its allies also charge that the bill is unfair because it doesn’t include public schools, only private organizations.

While it is true that the bill doesn’t include public organizations in the legislation, even if it did, the Catholic Church would probably fight the measure anyway. In 2003, the Church paid $1.2 billion in restitution to sexual abuse victims who were able to come forward after California passed SB 1779 a year earlier. The Church was forced to release thousands of documents including confidential files on suspected pedophile priests that ultimately led to 1000 cases being filed in 2003 alone http://www.ocregister.com/articles/swimming-516810-bill-abuse.html and only 50, a mere 5%, were dismissed because they didn’t meet the requirements. So, the Catholic Church is not objecting so much to public schools being left out of the bill as much as they are trying to protect their money and the priests that committed the crimes.

If SB 131 passes, more victims of pedophile priests will be able to come forward and seek justice. That means more court battles for the Catholic Church and more monetary settlements. More documents would have to be released. It would be more embarrassment for a religious organization that has been desperate to make their crimes disappear and silence the victims of those crimes. The scandal is still not over for the Catholic Church as much as it tries to pray it away. Documents are still being ordered released by judges. It was recently proved that Cardinal Timothy Dolan helped shield pedophile priests when he was the Archbishop of Milwaukee from 2002-2009. Clearly, new evidence, confessions, and documents are still coming to light even decades later. So why not allow victims to have their day in court?

By opposing SB 131, the Catholic Church gives the perception that it is doing so merely to protect themselves and their priests by preventing victims from stating their cases in a court of law. Church defenders say the bill is worthless because decades old allegations are difficult, if not impossible to prove in court. Well, if that’s so, why is the Church crusading against letting these cases be heard? Could it be because not all of the cases would be that difficult to prove? After all, if the Church is so confident that new victims can’t win their cases, why try to prevent them from speaking out in the first place? It makes the Church look like it’s hiding something, which in all honesty it probably is. The Catholic Church has consistently been revealed to have paid off priests to leave the Church, transferring accused priests, and shielding them from answering for their crimes in court. Many allegations of abuse that is decades old has been proven to be true before. There is no reason to believe it can’t happen again, and the Church definitely has not given the public reason to trust them.

Sure, public organizations should be included in the bill, but it shouldn’t be defeated if they aren’t. The bill is just another step toward making sure sexual abuse victims get the justice they deserve. A second bill aimed at public institutions can be introduced later and still have the same effect. If the Catholic Church wants to improve its image, it should praise this bill and support its passage and then lobby for a second bill to be passed on behalf of the victims of sexual abuse who attended public institutions. Passing SB 131 wouldn’t help all sexual abuse victims, but defeating the bill wouldn’t help any. And shouldn’t the Catholic Church be all for helping victims no matter what or how it is achieved? Considering the Church claims to be a moral authority, it most certainly should.

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