Letter to Chair of PA Judiciary Committee Rep. Ron Marsico

October 1, 2011

Representative Ronald S. Marsico
105th Legislative District
Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Chairman, Judiciary Committee

Re:    Scheduled Hearing Dates:

House Bill 832 – Sponsor Rep. Louise Williams Bishop
(re statute of limitations for child sexual abuse – criminal & civil)

House Bill 878 – Sponsor Rep. Michael McGeehan
(re legislation to allow civil action for child sexual abuse)

Honorable Rep. Marsico:

I wanted to write to you directly as the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee of the PA House of Representatives and a life-long member of the Catholic Church.  Certainly, as an elected official, you are dedicated to the mission that our government acts in the best interests of all its citizens, including children.  And, as a Catholic, such an education, tradition and training that we both share has instilled in all of us how dedicated Our Lord was to the protection of the innocence of children.

Mike Skiendzielewski

16 thoughts on “Letter to Chair of PA Judiciary Committee Rep. Ron Marsico

  1. I hope all PA residents follow Michael’s lead and write letters (not just e-mails) to these legislators. If you don’t speak up, you can’t complain that your voice was not heard.

  2. “If you don’t speak up, you can’t complain that your voice was not heard.”

    Sorry Jerry, but I can’t agree with this one. I speak up all the time, and yes, I do complain that my voice isn’t be heard. Or, maybe it is being heard and those who I believe need to hear me just don’t care.

    I’ve decided to stop protesting in front of Catholic owned buildings. It’s obvious to me that they don’t give a shit about child abuse and I couldn’t explain just how much I don’t care about the Catholic Church… not in one sitting anyway. According to the Catholic hierarchy, “child sexual abuse is a sin of the past,” but what the Catholic Church fails to understand is that child sexual abuse is not in the past for myself and many other victims of clergy abuse. It stays with us throughout our lives and effects us everyday. What may have “physically” happened many years ago, still carries significant “psychological” influence on victim’s lives today. This is something the Catholic Church doesn’t want to understand, and while they contend that such maltreatment of children is not still going on today, even though I read an article on AOL news yesterday that a priest was charged in Arizona for abusing two siblings just late last year, it couldn’t be more obvious to me that my voice isn’t being heard.

    So I’ve decided to take my fight to the steps of our government buildings. Instead of holding signs, admitting that I was sexually abused as a child by a Catholic priest, I think I’ll take my signs to the steps of City Hall and to the Capitol Building and announce that PA State Senators, most notably Rep. Marsico, “Protects Child Rapists!” After all, is in not the job of our elected leaders to provide laws that protect its State’s citizens? Or do those laws only protect adults? Seems to me that our laws protect the perpetrators more than the civil rights of their victims.

    I have written 806 letters to PA, NJ, DE, and NY lawmakers in almost 3 years. I’ve gotten two responses, with one being a holiday card from the White House during Christmas two years ago. (Yes, I even wrote to the White House.) The other response seemed sincere but hasn’t really panned out yet.

    1. You can complain because you do write, with extraordinary tenacity I might add. I don’t think letter writing is a siver bullet, but if done by a large numbers of voters, may make a difference. Last year I wrote constantly to the minority leaders in Ireland, now they are in power confronting the pope. Of course, my e-mails were not significant, but I do believe they played some role, however small. Demonstrations aimed at church leaders at this point are not worth much effort. Politicians in the upcoming presidential primary year present a better prospect. PA is a key swing state which will get national media attention. Hopefully, many will demonstrate at some of the rallies of both parties.. Thank you for your extraordinary courage and tenacity. God bless!

  3. This weekend I was walking along 13th Street in Center City. As I passed in front of St John the Evangelist RC Church a man on the sidewalk with a display of catholic literature asked me if I wanted some information. I told him that the only information I wanted was why Cardinal Bevilaqua had not yet been indicted. “Oh, you’re one of them” he said, “You’re trying to destroy the church with your gay agenda.”

    And there you have it.

    For a while now I’ve been trying to understand why the people in the pews are not angry as hell with the Church. Why are they so complacent?

    For years my theory has been that society doesn’t give a crap about the important issues of our day because of the wealth effect. As long as the stock market was up, the housing market soaring, and 401k’s reaching insane levels people were happy to be wrapped up in their own little worlds. Please don’t interrupt our day at the Mall with anything unseemly.

    But now, the economy is down and people are struggling. And they still don’t care. Where is the outrage?

    My new theory is that what we are seeing is White Privilege. It’s been there all along, of course. It manifests itself in avoidance of anything outside the mainstream. If you are not like me you do not exist. If you are on the edge of society you do not exist. If you are damaged you do not exist. To maintain this illusion the world must be blocked out. Like a child with his hands over his ears yelling I can’t hear you. Nothing too challenging on tv, please and no newspapers- well, maybe just the sports page.

    If only the people in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia cared a little less about the Phillies and a little more about life.

    White Privilege is also about Power. As Waugh wrote: “Nothing brings out the good veal in an Italian restaurant like the red stripe on a monsignor’s shirt.” People want to be around Power. And no one does power better than the Church. Red, gold, capes, hats, lace, rings, titles, jewels. Look at how the mayor and the DA tripped on themselves to be included in the recent installation ceremonies. Look at how the people in the pews are entranced by a visit from the Bishop. Or (gasp) the Cardinal. Even though the curtain has been pulled back on what is, at worst, the Evil, and, at best, the incompetence of the Archdiocese – those in the mainstream have looked away. Please, just let us get in and out of Mass so that we can get home in time for the Eagles game.

    So letters to legislators will fall on deaf ears. Elected officials and their egos don’t want to rock the mainstream boat. They don’t want to miss out on their chance to sit at the adult table with the Cardinal and have the good veal; they dream of the day. Members of the Supreme Court were at today’s Red Mass in Washington. Rocco is positively orgasmic. Whatever happened to the Separation of Church and State?

    Have we missed our chance? Should we have protested en mass as soon as the transcripts were released? And not relented until we were acknowledged? What do we want? Is the message clear? Are we many in number? Are we relentless?

    Are we being too damn polite?

    Change is an action verb.

    1. Charles I agree with you about the power. But I will try,it has been successful in other states. If I try and fail okay- but I will try.

    2. Charles,
      It isn’t any of the above reasons…

      When was the last time you (or anyone) jumped out of your comfort zone to fight a fight you believe has little to do with you?

      I mean that in all sincerity.

      Catholics are comfortable. If they KNEW how they were being used financially, (and otherwise) they might speak up…but, they believe what they are told.

      They believe it doesn’t affect them nearly as much as it really does…so why jump out of their comfort zone?

      1. Hi Survivor’s Wife: Of course, you are sadly right. You may find of interest an article entitled “Eichmann in Philly” that notes the parallels of Catholic apathy towards priest abuse of children to the apathy on many German civilians to Hitler’s murder of Jews. It is written by a young graduate student at Notre Dame. Also of interest perhaps are the uncomfortable comments of some of the readers, apparently academic types, to the article. The article is accessible by clicking on to http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/?p=15011

      2. Thanks for the read.

        Organized crime by any other name…Nazis, mafia, catholic church…it’s all the same.

  4. Kathy, I agree and I am putting my letter in the mail this morning. If every person who visits this site and every site like it does the same, the powers that be will take notice. Elected officials want votes. All grassroots organizations daunted by the officials wielding all of the power begin by stuffing their mailboxes to get attention. Will things change overnight? Of course not. But if they know that we are not going away any time soon. If they know that the people who have been abused and continue to suffer that abuse on a daily basis through the ignorance of both the church and the state are no longer alone; then little by little, step by step we can and will make a difference. Pennsylvania will once again make national headlines. This time for changing the laws to protect the innocent. Remember, the pen is mightier than the sword. If anyone thinks that there is nothing that they can do, just writing a letter is a good first step.

    If the catholic lobbyists have the money and the power to swing votes and kill the bills that protect the children, then I agree that picketing the churches is a waste of time. Separation of church and state? Enough already!! Rape is a crime, no matter what the age of the victim or when it occurred. Harrisburg here we come!!

    Contact information is below including e-mail and Facebook addresses. Hundreds of e-mails have an impact as well.

    Representative Ronald S. Marsico
    105th Legislative District, Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
    Chairman, Judiciary Committee
    PA House of Representatives, 
218 Ryan Office Building
, PO Box 202105
, Harrisburg, PA 17120-2105, 
Phone: 717-783-2014 
Fax: 717-705-2010


    Re: House Bill 832 – Sponsor Rep. Louise Williams Bishop (statute of limitations for child sexual abuse – criminal & civil) House Bill 878 – Sponsor Rep. Michael McGeehan (legislation to allow civil action for child sexual abuse)

  5. Survivor’s wife:

    You miss my point entirely. It’s White Privilege and Lust For Power that allows the folks in the pews to “believe what they are told”. You emphasize “KNEW” oh, if they only KNEW. Why don’t they know? Because they do not read the papers, have not read the transcripts, and do not listen to anyone who has an alternative point of view. They have closed their minds because they can afford to. They can afford to because they are in the mainstream, cookie cutter houses in nice tidy neighborhoods, dress up nice and go to Mass, friends with the priests and dream of the day that little Bobby or Suzy gets confirmed by the Bishop. And that is White Privilege.

    Here’s a little gem about someone who obviously knew and yet…:


    And, yeah, I’m on the fringe (gay) and thus damaged goods. And oh, I’ve stepped out of my comfort zone PLENTY. Six years running ACTUP in NY for a start. I was not sexually abused by the clergy (as I have said here before) but I am willing to fight for those who have been. Write your friendly letters if you want. I’m past that.

    1. We could debate the myriad of ways the pew catholics are complacent, charles.

      white privilege…are you using that term as a broad term to cover more than race? If you intend it merely as “white,” then I disagree.

      Power, I understand…white privilege, not a chance.

      I may be missing more than a point…I usually miss sections.

    2. Charles,
      My question about coming out of our comfort zones was to challenge any of us who think we are much different than the pew species…if you are a person who naturally jumps out of your comfort zone then it’s water off a duck’s back. No ill intent from me.

      1. Whether you think it is not unique to catholics is immaterial, isn’t it? We are talking about catholics, aren’t we? Aren’t we actually in agreement that the majority of catholics are looking the other way? That they just don’t care?

        Whether we call it “White Privilege” or “elitism” is unimportant to me. I have no pony in that race. “Stupid” would describe many in the pews, but “Brainwashed” would probably be less pejorative.

        Q: Why do you continue to go to Mass at St. Where Ever, when your priest has been accused of child molestation?
        A: Because one of the Commandments of The Church (there are Seven) is “Support your parish”, I can’t go anywhere else.

        THAT was a reason I heard over and over from people at my parish in upstate NY when our Pastor was finally taken away for molesting 30 boys. He was hosting orgies for members of the football team in the church basement. Lots of booze, sweat and steamy sex in that basement but gotta support the parish!

        A working class parish, but none-the-less suffering from white privilege and elitism. Rather than storm the Chancery, people took to the golf course, the bridge table, the PTA. Attendance never declined. Giving never was better. Sure, the parents of the 30 boys were changed forever, but the rest of the folks in the pews went about business as usual. Why? Because they could afford to ignore the misery of others. Because they had other things to do. Because the ladies and gentlemen of the elite just can’t/won’t wrap their minds around the sexual attractiveness of a teenager (Think about Bevilaqua’s claim that he didn’t know what “pursue sexually” meant.)

        And the ladies and gentlemen continue to “move on” because we let them. We don’t want to be intrude.

        The man on the street who I had words with this weekend? He laughed at me! I’m a 50 year old, white, 6’6″, 220lb, imposing male. He laughed at me because he could. Because at that moment he knew that I was not in the mainstream – I was “one of them”. That’s why protesters get laughed at and called nut jobs by folks running into the Cathedral for Mass.

        If you have been abused, born gay, had a divorce, had an abortion, committed adultery (hell, are a woman!)and listened to the Church diminish you week after week, you are on the fringe. You personally understand what I am saying. You live it day after day. All the time.

        The mainstream will never understand. Unless they are FORCED to understand.

        So, rather than dismissing the info and opinion I offered earlier (“not a chance” “I don’t think so”), I’d like to ask you what you think we should do. “DO” being an action verb. (Just like “Change”). DO SOMETHING. Otherwise we are just the same handful of people screaming at each other on the internet.

      2. Charles, I’m not challenging you or dismissing you…I just see it differently.

        As far as action…that comes in different forms for everyone. My profession is all about child advocacy…the number of opportunities I get to advocate for children are many. Protecting my own children and helping them navigate their spiritual journey without the effects of clergy abuse clouding my parenting and infecting their spirituality would be a success, in my opinion. That’s a full time job in and of itself. And, IF I did nothing more than that, it would be enough.

        I get to speak about my husband’s story (and our journey as a family) to our new church family…and before I ever allowed my children to step foot in that church, they had to change some policies to be more child-friendly. Quite honestly, my husband and I have turned our new church upside down and inside out. Not only did they respond, but they THANKED us. I feel good that more children are safer.

        I got to speak at a conference for police officers, attorneys, and child advocates about the long-term effects of sexual abuse on a child, implications on the family, etc.

        So, my suggestion would be to speak out and often in your own communities. Don’t let the topic die…serve on child advocacy panels, councils, support child-friendlly legislature, place yourself in circles that rub elbows with people who have influence to change policy or support you in doing so.

        I’m done begging the church to do what is right…that’s futile. Protesting in front of a church…I’ll only go if the victim will get some measure of healing from doing so. Anything that brings healing to a victim, i will do it. Write a letter, stand in protest, call the diocesan office, listen to their experiences, a ride to counseling…whatever.

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