New Threat to Sex Abuse Legislation That Would Protect All Kids

The Sunday Inquirer cover story on incoming Archbishop Chaput outlines his highly organized strategy – not just a stance – on sex abuse legislation in Colorado. With similar bills pending in PA, child advocates better get their message out and their best game on. If they don’t, all children in PA are the losers. See to understand how pending bills would protect all youth in this state. In this complex issue, there is more at stake than justice for victims. Although, that should be enough.

While Cardinal Rigali and other Pennsylvania Catholic hierarchy fought in a subversive manner to protect Church assets, Archbishop Chaput will be vocal and filled with conviction. While I admire him for that, I completely disagree with his arguments.

This legislation does not unfairly target the Church. The Church, as well as any other private institution entrusted with the care of children, would be held accountable. The Catholic Church should be a role model in this regard. Every victim deserves their day in court to prove their case.

“I have an obligation – a duty to help the victims and to defend innocent Catholics today from being victimized because of earlier sins in which they play no part,” said Archbishop Chaput in an interview with Our Sunday Visitor, a national Catholic newspaper. I am one of those innocent Catholics and I feel far more victimized by a Church that turns its back on justice, children and victims. I would prefer a financially bankrupt Church to one that is morally bankrupt. What do you think?

Here’s the Inquirer cover story:

“In Denver, Chaput fought bill on abuse,” by Jeremy Roebuck, The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 7, 2011

30 thoughts on “New Threat to Sex Abuse Legislation That Would Protect All Kids

  1. The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference will fight hard against house Bills 832 and 878. I recently spoke to a woman who is a survivor of child sex abuse -by NON clergy. She has been very active in advocating for the statutes reform in Pennsylvania -her biggest opponent has been the Catholic Church. She was not abused within the Catholic Church however their actions are affecting her in her quest to protect children children. Her abuser is still in the community because she cannot file a civil or criminal complainst against him due to the statute of limiations. It is sickening that our Church has not only harmed children but by fighting against legislature, continues to put children in Pennsylvania in danger.

    1. Predators that abused before megans law are not on the list either so you can be living next to a pedophile and not know it thats if victims could even press charges. I saw my husbands abuser at starbucks having cofee he got out in 18months( laws were not that great when the abuse happened) in jail and out on good behavior and is not on the list. Meanwhile our lives have been basically devastated that seems fair…………. right?

  2. No, Beth, that doesn’t seem to be fair at all. My abuser is dead, but I don’t know what I would’ve done if I saw him somewhere I was. I’ve lived all around the country. I spent a few years in Arizona, a year in South Carolina, some time in California and up into Canada and down into Mexico. After moving outside of Philly, I spent a lot of time in Sea Isle City, NJ. When I moved from there in 2006, to western NJ, I thought I had found a nice quiet place that I never knew existed in this state. I am in fact, living on over 20 acres of farming ground and trees. After I filed my lawsuit in Delaware, I would find out that Father McDevitt (my abuser) died at a retirement home less than 1 mile from where I live now. I went to that place a couple of years ago, and I had to drive down this long gravel road, about ¼ of a mile, until I came to this large bed & breakfast looking building. I immediately thought to myself “this is exactly where you would hide somebody.” The house looked abandoned, and there was still curtains on the window and old wooden rocking chairs on the front deck. It looked like everybody had cleared out of there in a hurry. Maybe somebody found out that child abusing priests were living there?

    I had the creepy feeling when I was there though. It was like I was so close to my abuser again because he had once lived there. I wondered if he’d spent any time sitting on those wooden rocking chairs and if he thought that he was out in the middle of nowhere, in a place where no one would be able to find him. Regardless, I felt uneasy being there and I didn’t stay too long and I haven’t been back since. Honestly, I’d like to go torch the place, but then I was thinking maybe this would be a good place to visit for the magazine “Weird, NJ.”

    1. The priest who abused my husband lives free and clear in a quaint suburb outside Cincinnati. Honestly, I don’t know what I’d do if I ever had to see him. He’s never been charged due to SOL, but he has dozens of known victims, and I believe, many more who haven’t come forward yet. He isn’t on any sex offender list…I’m sure the people who live near him think he’s a nice ol’ man.

  3. It looks like the appointment of Chaput is business as usual – the same old – same old. As long as the major concern for The Church is to protect the hierarchy in The Church, as has beed done for centuries, nothing will change. The most refressing thing to come out of this whole issue is the development of grassroots laity driven commentary such as Susan Matthews has brought about with Catholics4Change and the people who tell their stories now that they really have a voice. How liberating it must be for believers in The Church to be able to speak out without fear of reprisal or threats from the parish priest or the hierarchy. In the past whenever a parishioner displayed doubt or voiced criticism they were met with admonitions that their faith was not strong enough and that they should pray for guidance.

    Perhaps priests and the hierarchy are the ones needing to pray for guidance.

  4. In reply to Reid, I agree totally with your comments. As Chaput was handpicked by the Pope to “get rid of this problem” he will try to make it business as usual. But, I think now there are enough catholic church drop-outs (as myself) and sensibleCatholic Laity who are looking for the outcome of this “problem”. This may be just rumor or heresay, but I hear many of the suspended 21 are jumping for joy at the appointment of Chaput. They feel Rigali threw them under the bus to save his own skin. This will be very interesting come Sept 7 with the installation of Philadelphia’s new catholic shepherd. Will he tender his flock, or will he put his wolves back in service to devour what is left of the believers. I said it before, probably not all of the 21 are guilty of actualy abuse, but they did something to someone and things have been really quiet among them. You would think at least one of them would have something to say in defense of the allegations. But I think they are all waiting for their new conservative hero to bail them out, let’s see how interestred Chuput is in keeping believers who question his authority. Does he want to heal his flock or baby his brothers?

  5. The clerics who are in positions of stewardship within the Church are not interested in what’s best for the People of God, i.e., Chaput’s highly organized strategy on sex abuse legislation in Colorado. Therefore, Chaput, other bishops like him, and the pope (Ben 16 put him here, and he also gives Cardinal Law his Roman villa and $12,000/month stipend) must be treated as enemies.

    If we can’t not see them as enemies, we will be ineffective in stopping their self-protective evil actions. They have authority only to the degree that the People of God defer to them.

    Disrespecting them, whenever and wherever I can – drwho13.

  6. You see, here’s one of my pet peeves and I mean no disrespect, but I see a lot of people on this forum writing about the evil that exists within the Catholic Church, and I see some of you stake your claim that you will do whatever you can to stop the abuses within the Church, but when will you join me outside of a church to show and voice your disdain?
    When will current abuse victims start seeing so much of the flock supporting them and enabling them to tell a parent or call the cops? When will all your talk become something more? I write about it too, but the axe we grind should be in between ourselves and a Catholic building, or between ourselves and City Hall.

    The people who don’t wish to listen won’t come on a forum like this and read, and I’ve found that most non-believers won’t read the Grand Jury Report because they believe it to be untrue, even though they’ve never even read one word of it. They won’t read it because they believe so much in the Catholic Church that they cannot decide for themselves what is worthy and what is not. I always wondered why Catholics disbelieve my truth before they believe it? It’s the same practice as my not believing in God before I know all the facts, yet people still try to push the God-concept on me.

    So let me ask you all… If I decide to rally a bunch of people to protest the ongoing childhood sexual abuse crisis that exist within the Catholic Church and demand answers from church leaders, who will stand with me?

    If I decide to protest on the steps of City Hall in Philadelphia and charge the State of Pennsylvania “that it protects child abusers,” who will join me?

  7. I think a rally on the day of Bevilaqua’s competency hearing would be great because it shows that many Catholics are supporting the efforts of the D.A.’s office.

    1. Or a Rally the day of the installation of the new Archbishop might be a good start too. Many Catholics will be lining up to kiss his proverbial … ring so maybe a little display of what the faithful really expect of him might not be a bad idea. Something like, we need a new spirit to sweep through this downtrodden church and disgard the dirty rags of this religion and make it something pleasing in the sight of God, a new concept for Catholics, love, truth, honor and remorse for how all victims of their abuse are treated.

      1. Abigail, My fear is that it might be perceived as a “protest” against Archbishop Chaput rather than a “rally.” Bevilacqua has already proven he is deserving of a protest and it’s a week later. I think we can get both messages across in one fell swoop in front of the courthouse.

  8. Susan, I see your point, however, I do think a letter writing campaign should start along with telephone calls, etc. to let Chaput know what we are asking of him. Remember WE (well not me anymore) are the CHURCH. Although I am no longer an active Catholic, that does not mean I don’t want my voice heard concerning this. So I am going to fire off a letter to Chaput with several copies going to my legislators, etc. in Harrisburg, I think (regarding Chaput) a new broom must sweep clean. Also, any word on how the investigations are going for the Philadelphia 21? I just cannot get over how silence they are, maybe the Inquirer should try to get an interview. I am still blown away by what “boundary issues” can entail.

    1. A letter writing compaign, Abigail? It won’t work. To date I have written 712 letters to PA, NJ, NY, and DE legislators (Senators), congressman, governors, and even to the President. I got two replies. One was a holiday card from the White House last Christmas, and the other was from Sen. Whelan regarding their overflow of letters received and how they don’t have the time to respond to me. The problem is, some intern in the politician’s office reads the letters and then throws it away. That’s how things are done in our government.

      1. The letter writing campaign needs to be organized and whether they read them or not, it’s the volume of mail that matters. If they know that the numbers of people watching them has changed in regard to this issue, then they may take notice.

        As far as caring about the individual victim or victims collectively…I don’t see that changing…it’s why the people in the pews NEED to show up and stand up and speak up!

        I’ve written my fair share of letters as well. I live in Illinois…where the only people more corrupt than the hierarchy are the politicians. Letter writing was not as effective as the immediacy of tv or newspaper.

        Media exposure makes them nervous…so if you plan on standing in front of the chancery (or whatever location is chosen) invite all forms of media.

        First though, I would probably request to meet with the hierarchy, call them, etc….and when they ignored me, I would contact the media to get my side of things as i stood outside the chancery. They tend to listen when it affects their image and $.

  9. I should know better, this is like “preaching to the choir” (no pun intended). I found this website quite by accident because I was searing on line to get a handle on what was happening in the Philadelphia Church since things have been so quite since March. But, as I read the posts in here, it’s th same people, where are all the other concerned people of the church? Does no one, except a handful care about this tragedy. Does no one care that it will continue to happen over and over again. I have a hard time praying over this, prayers just seem to be just what the so-called leaders of the Church want us to do, it’s like a false security… I can just see them at their beach houses laughing while they discuss the little old ladies (like me) wearing away their rosary beads. This men’s club is worse than any government boy’ club. these men are supposed to lead us to heaven. Woe to them and to their protectors.

    1. I read variations of this quote but I like it. “Evil wins when good people fail to act” You need prayer to guide you but we need to act. Jesus did not sit in a church all day praying neither should we.

  10. Abigail,don’t worry there are many people out there who share your concerns. The site was just developed a few months ago and there have already been over 125,000 site visits – it averages about 1,000 per day. Some people like to share thoughts and leave comments.Others just like to read the info posted. It happens quite often that people contact us off site and tell us that they have been following us for the past few months. People are always encouraged to comment-sharing ideas and thoughts is a good thing!

  11. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is when good men do nothing.” Edmund Burke

    Actually, I went public back in June 2009, and when my story appeared in newspapers all around the world and was televised on local media outlets, I found myself reading the dreadful “comment section” to articles online. People were calling me every insult in the book. They said I was “just another scumbag looking for a payday.” There could be 50 comments to one article and about 70% were negative toward me. I was angry and I had desires of throwing my computer and monitor out the window. “Who were these people?” I thought. “They don’t know me and they have no idea what I’ve been through in my life. Who the hell do they think they are?” Then, after awhile of reading those comments, I came to the conclusion that they are merely trolls, who post negative comments to create controversy. I think most aren’t even Catholic and I was sure none had been abused as children.

    Today, I see a different story. When posted a news article about “Msgr. Lynn having to stand trial for child endangerment,” I read all 35 comments to that article and NONE showed any support for the Catholic Church. People are changing. Even as I have participated in over 100 protests against the Catholic Church, people are usually pretty positive. I’ve had many run-ins of course, with people who just won’t get it, but overall I can definitely see a change in how people are viewing this “epidemic.”

    I think Catholics are even more enraged, not because of the lawsuits victims file, but because the Church was so negligent and so irresponsible that many parishioners believed their money was being used for purposes they don’t agree with. Just think for one moment… had the Church stood up in the beginning and exposed child abusers and turned them over to law enforcement, it’s unlikely that victims would have been paid out an amount that is close to $2 billion. I believe Catholics are starting to become just as irritated with their leaders as we victims have been for such a long time.

    I haven’t been in a church in nearly 11 years. I won’t go inside one. I won’t even stand on the steps outside of a church. But I do have fantasies that if I could find within myself the courage to walk into a church, I would wait until the middle of Mass and I would voice my opinion loudly, along with my concern, and my need for accountability, transparency, and justice. What would they do? Throw me out of God’s house? Who do they think they are?

    I believe the Church will be forced to change its ways when good people do something. I believe the laws will change when all people express their desire to protect children. I always hear these other organization’s leaders saying “that what the Church is doing now is too little, too late.” I don’t believe that. I believe the Church continues to do very little to help victims of abuse and to protect future children from abuse, but I don’t believe it’s ever too late to do the right thing.

  12. Victims4Justice. notes rightly that too many pew Catholics want the ‘story’ to go away. When I see news about the FLDS Mormon cult where the leader Jeffs has just been sentenced to along prison term for child abuse, and yet we see the thousands of followers still loyal to him and the FLDS. I can’t help think that our parishes too have millions of silent followers not different FLDS. . The energy to stay in the group/family/parish and still protest the leadership is soul aching. Our parish life is precious to us and to leave it is difficult. We need to hang together , protest, pray and be witnesses to the Gospel. TOO Many have walked away,
    I pray for Philly. When Chaput blasted ND for Obama award, he went to Toronto to deliver a speech blasting Obama, and US laws. And even blasted US Catholic laity. I emailed him saying 1. Americans don’t bad mouth our president in foreign venues. 2. do not bad mouth American life laws when Canada has more anti-catholic laws then the USA … and not mention this. . I immediately got back an email saying I was trying to drive a wedge between bishops and people and was a bad Catholic.and he would pray for me. .

    1. It’s interesting that you got a letter back at all. My guess is that if you would have written about the sex abuse issue at all, you would have been ignored.
      They can stand on their moral high ground with their blasts of Obama, because let’s face it, that’s an easy target outside of themselves. They hop a plane, spare no expense to “take a stand” when it comes to something that isn’t about their shameful behavior… but they know, deep down know….they have lied to their flock, it’s why they IGNORE this issue until someone FORCES them to deal with it.
      My parish life was precious to me as well. It was extremely painful to leave, but absolutely necessary so I wouldn’t infect another generation with the corruption. If you are an adult, it’s hard enough to find your way through the muck…but children? Catholics are knowingly and unknowingly passing on to the next generation a spirituality that is tainted. How could I ever answer to God about why I kept my kids in the very entity that physically and spiritually raped their father (and thousands of other children) and then lied about it? And when forced to tell the truth, lied some more? Where is Christ in that?
      I don’t think TOO many have walked away…I think TOO many were forced to leave and the rest were smart enough to realize they were being starved (spiritually and otherwise) by their hierarchy.
      I’m surprised to see so many stay knowing what they know. I can understand why people stay when they are in denial of what really happened, but when you know and realize the depth of what happened and stay…it baffles me. It reminds me of people in cults. As hard as it’s been, I am grateful I can see the RCC for what it is. It’s hard to say what would have happened with our family if there was evidence that the Body of Christ actually had a pulse in our diocese.

  13. Thank you for writing that letter Friscoeddie. I couldn’t agree with you more on parish life and as a proud American Catholic. There is already a huge wedge between Bishops and people. Bishops placed it there.

  14. To survivors wife. I agree. I cannot believe how long I stayed in the Church. I put up with all types of emotional and physical abuse from the “good sisters” back in my day, and still remained a practicing Catholic and raised my children as Catholics (I have apologized to them by the way) I stayed knowing full well how it worked, but after all the news came out about the clergy abuse, I could no longer sit in the pew at Mass listening to the homily about the media being anti-catholic, and victims looking for money. My stomach would churn with disgust. I missed practicing my faith, but I was starving for truth and justice and was just not receiveing it from the Catholic church, so I did what I had to do. LEFT and never looked back. I really think I am a better person because of it.

  15. Survivors wife;; I too would have taken your stance if I had been abused..My wife and I have fled to a marginal Franciscan inner city parish with a marvelous ministry. When the early Christians found the early Church floundering at 300AD they fled to monasteries and desert places. here is where we fled [a short video.] ….needs to be replicated in Philly?

  16. Why are the ‘politicians’ given the track record of the ‘rcc’ so obsequious towards ‘chaput’ and his ilk, I believe the ‘politicians’ should be eager to meet with the VICTIMS and not those who enabled and protected the abusers ! This conduct by its very nature is WRONG !

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