Church & State: The Latter Allows Your Voice to Be Heard

While this site creates a community for like-minded laity, we must do more than vent. We need to create the change the Church has been unwilling to implement in regard to sexual abuse allegations. Our best bet is through our court system and the legislature. The Grand Jury made specific recommendations for law makers. Please contact your state representative today and ask him or her to support bills that address the following:

1- “We recommend that the Pennsylvania legislature suspend for two years the civil
statute of limitations on sexual abuse claims. Such a “window of opportunity,”
appropriately limited to two years, would allow adults who were victims of sexual crimes
as children to have their cases heard in a court of law. The statute of limitations in force
when many of these victims were abused required that any civil litigation begin within
two years of the time of the abuse. Thus, a 10-year-old rape victim had until he was 12
years old to file suit against his abuser.

It is well established that most victims of childhood sexual abuse do not come
forward with allegations for many years, or even decades, after they were molested or
raped. For this reason, the civil statute of limitations in recent years has been extended.
However, as a result of the law’s past inadequacy, sexual predators who prey on children
continue to be shielded from exposure. “

2 – “Amend reporting law so that mandated reporters are required to report sexual
abuse of a child even though the victim is over 18 at the time of the report.”

3 – “Demand improved protection for children.

Because of the appropriate and constitutionally mandated separation of church and
state, Pennsylvania lawmakers would have limited leverage in attempting to influence
religious institutions’ policies. Nevertheless, the state has an interest in the safety of
students who attend parochial schools well as public schools. The Legislature should
consider reduced funding to schools, public or private, that fail to create a safe
environment for their children.

We understand that the Philadelphia Archdiocese has a “Safe Environment
Program” in place. But the lapses we observed in the hiring and supervising of Bernard
Shero indicate that better practices are necessary to protect children in parish schools. “

6 thoughts on “Church & State: The Latter Allows Your Voice to Be Heard

  1. It is sad but true that the Church must be forced into doing the right thing. The legal system and legislature have to do what the Church should have been doing all along,protecting the children.

  2. I believe it is time for the catholic church to accept it guilt in allowing these abuses to continue, and to be covered up.

  3. In 2005 I wrote directly to the Cardinal about the need to address not just the abuse of children but the total disconnect with regard to the Archdioces acting as responsible managers when notified of a proported abuse of a child by an employee (priest or other)! To date I have received no response! On 2/14/2011, after the 2d Grand Jury report I wrote the Cardinal again and to date – no response!I am a good practicing Catholic but frankly I am fed up how the Bishops, Cardinals and Pope are addressing this issue and moving the church into a more open and well managed organization.

  4. For those wondering whether or not the Philadelphia Archdiocesan leadership, both lay and religious, will voluntarily act responsibly and courageously on behalf of their most innocent parishioners, the young children of the archdiocese, the following statement is presented from the Northeast Times from late September 2005 (one week after the release of the first Grand Jury Report and Investigation):

    Further, according to an attorney for the archdiocese, C. Clark Hodgson of Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young, church officials were not obligated by state law to report sex-abuse cases to civil authorities unless the actual child victim notified the church personally. If the child’s parent filed the complaint with the archdiocese, however, church officials did not have to notify police.

    I think that statement, conduct and decision-making by archdiocesan counsel gives a very clear picture of where our leaders stand when it comes to protecting our children.

    To add insult to injury, Mr. Hodgson was subsequently awarded the St. Thomas More Society Award in Philadelphia, honoring the patron saint of lawyers. The best part is this: St. Thomas More was martyred for his faith and noted most particularly for adhering to the “spirit of the law, not the letter of the law.”

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