Massachusetts Bishops Endorse SOL Reform

Click here to read: “Massachusetts bishops endorse statute of limitations extension,” by Nicholas Sciarappa, National Catholic Reporter, June 27, 2014

Excerpt: The Massachusetts Catholic Conference released a statement to NCR June 20 supporting the legislation and affirming the bishops’ commitment to helping the victims and families of child sexual abuse survivors.

“We, the Bishops of the four Dioceses of Massachusetts recognize the suffering of survivors who have experienced sexual abuse and remain committed to assuring the safety of children entrusted to our care,” the statement said.

“Our support for this legislation is consistent with our continued and steadfast commitment to provide those services for as long as they are needed by the victims and their families,” it said.

According to Jetta Bernier, executive director of Massachusetts Citizens for Children, a child welfare advocacy group, the bill is the result of difficult negotiations with the Catholic conference.

Editor’s Note: What will the PA Catholic Conference do? What will the PA bishops do?

32 thoughts on “Massachusetts Bishops Endorse SOL Reform

  1. ……..the bill is the result of difficult negotiations with the Catholic conference….
    How can one believe in their integrity if it comes only through difficult negotiation?
    American taxpayers contribute to the Catholic Bishops Conference, receiving a federal tax exemption as a non for profit entity, and you have to negotiate with them to gain an extention of statute of limitations to pay for their own crimes against humanity?

    1. That’s the reality. Yes, the passage of the law will help many, many individuals abused as children no matter who their abusers were. You notice, however, that this law is extended to age 53. The SOL has not been totally removed going forward. If it did and if it included a two or three year civil window for previously time barred cases of childhood sexual abuse it would not have passed largely because of opposition by the Catholic bishops of Massachusetts and the state Catholic Conference. The bishops are not ready for that nor are they ready to “tell the Truth, the whole Truth so help you God.” They can’t handle the Truth.

      We heard in the liturgy for this Sunday the story of the good seed and the weeds? Well, the hierarchy, the bishops, the corrupted culture of clericalism in the Roman Catholic Church if you will, are the weeds.


      This is the gist of my comments on Mass Live and my letter to the editor:

      I congratulate Kathy Picard and all the people of Massachusetts who helped to get this bill extending the civil statute of limitation covering the sexual abuse of children to 53 years of age and I applaud Governor Deval Patrick for signing this bill into law.

      “The criminal statute of limitations was extended in 2006 from 15 years after a victim’s 16th birthday to 27 years.”

      The work of advocates for statute of limitation reform in Massachusetts is commendable in the face of the reality that historically most states’ laws covering the sexual abuse of children have been woefully inadequate. However, Massachusetts work is not finished in this regard.

      All statutes of limitation, both criminally and civilly, in regard to the sexual abuse of children must ultimately be completely removed.

      The scandal of childhood sexual abuse, especially what has been revealed by the continuing crisis and cover-up by the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Jewish community, and the scandals connected with Penn State University, and the revelations of the sexual abuse of children by Donald Fitzpatrick, who worked for the Boston Red Sox for so many decades, all point out that the sexual abuse of children is epidemic in our society.

      Some very few states have completely removed the criminal and civil statutes of limitation covering the sexual abuse of children. Delaware is one of those states. Additionally, in removing those limitations going forward, Delaware opened a two year civil window in 2007 so that previously time barred cases could of CSA, by anyone, could be brought forward.

      This should now be Massachusetts next goal in the protection of children.

      And BTW, if the bishops of Massachusetts and the MA Catholic Conference supported legislation similar to that of Delaware, Massachusetts could, like DE, be a leader in addressing the epidemic, of childhood sexual abuse. But the RCC Church is too powerful in MA and too many people, including Catholics, think the hierarchy is doing a great job. They’re not.

      I am proud to say that I testified before the Delaware legislature in support of SB29, the Child Victims Act, which became it’s law in 2007.

      Sister Maureen Paul Turlish SNDdeN
      25-E Highland Blvd.
      New Castle, DE 19720
      Advocate for Survivors & Legislative Reform
      New Castle, DE 19720

  2. I figure if we are moving forward we are not moving backwards and that means change and that’s what we want change……..once things change they have a tendency to keep moving and I hope it continues. I know there are a lot of people working hard to keep kids safe and bring justice to as many survivors as possible.

  3. What a crock. The legislation in Massachusetts and the legislation proposed in Pennsylvania is a sham. Thousands of victims of clergy abuse in both states will be denied justice, basically because they are too old. If this legislation discriminated against women the way it does against older victims, there would be an uproar. Again I ask . Where was the compromise on the part of the Catholic lobby? There is no window in either bill .Older victims have been sacrificed at the altar of political expediency And the Bishops in Massachusetts act like they are doing so much for victims. The truth of the matter is that they know they have won a major victory. Again what a crock.. . .

    1. Good points Jim. Whenever religion and politics mix, whether that mix involves Bishops in the US, or Mullahs in the Middle East, many people suffer. I wish lobbying and tax exempt status would be reviewed here in the States.

    2. The rcc should have never been permitted or considered in the negotiations they are a religious organization hiding their enablers and abusers behind outdated laws, ” Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities” Voltaire. Without a doubt this is an atrocity’ for all VICTIMS ! Boycott the rcc & Hobby Lobby !

      1. unabletotrust: Finally someone who can see the light. For too many years these same people who abused us and covered up the abuse are deciding what the fate of victims should be .It would be like a kidnapper who has held you hostage for fifty years after being caught deciding what their own punishment should be. Frankly, I am exasperated at the entire idea of negotiating with the Catholic Church or its lobby. Especially since the way these bills were written gave away everything but the kitchen sink. We came into these bills already weakened. My concept of writing legislation is you ask for more than you know you are going to get, knowing full well that you are going to get less than you ask for .Instead the legislation gave everything away ahead of time.What did the Catholic Church or its lobby give up in these so called negotiations? I believe that worldwide, the biggest problems that we face are based on extreme religious organizations taking over government and eventually the world. . .

  4. Dear Catholics4Change, as mothers especially, I wonder if you would join me in in keeping in mind the Jewish families and community in the loss of their beautiful sons and the tragic circumstances of their death.

  5. As far as the Boston decision is concerned I just don’t get the age issue except its wheeling and dealing by the church
    Your memory is different at 54 than it was at 53? These things are burned into our brains. Also there was something about if someone didn’t remember the abuse they were adding 7 years to the window? But it looks like it doesn’t count if you say reported the abuse at 54 prior to this passing?

  6. When I reported the sexual abuse I endured as a child, every ounce of my heart and gut and mind told me I was doing the right thing. When I decided to take my story to the public forum, I felt certain that I could potentially help someone else and I didn’t waver or wonder in my decision. When I first sat down and started typing letters I would send to politicians, I knew down to the deepest depths of my core, that I was typing my words out of necessity. When I decided to stand in protest outside of a building, a church, a school, or a statehouse, I felt power from within myself and I would no longer be silenced. I was determined to make my voice heard regardless of whether or not people wanted to hear me. Still, I can become complacent and lost in all the battles, but something quite amazing happened this afternoon that reaffirms my ambitions to prevent, protect, and to seek justice.

    I taught two little girls how to swim. That is something I have never taught anyone to do before. In fact, up until just a couple of hours ago, I didn’t know I could teach or that I had anything of use with which someone could learn. I asked their mother, who was sunbathing alongside the pool if I could teach her 7-year-old twin daughters how to swim and she gave me a literal “thumbs up!” I had few ideas of where to start, but I knew for certain that I would not teach these girls to swim just as my father had taught me, when he carried me down to the deep end and threw me in. I think I was 6 or 7, and I remember gasping for air and swallowing and inhaling chlorinated water. I couldn’t dare live with myself if these girls felt one second of that fear I will never forget.

    I told them to hold onto the side of the pool and I showed them how to tread water with their feet. Individually, I held the girls by the waist in water that was a little deeper and showed them how to tread water with their arms and legs. Back in the shallow end of the pool and holding onto the side, I showed them how they should move their arms and legs in order to swim. All this I had visualized before I even asked their mother if I could teach them. After that, I was stumped. I couldn’t think of a way to teach the girls how to lay atop of the water and swim. It’s not really “floating,” and besides, how do you teach someone to float? Instead, I held their bellies up with the palm of my hands and I told them to flap their arms and kick their legs under water. Incredibly, that was just about all they needed to know because these two little geniuses were off to the Olympics. I’ve read that twins are smarter, but this was ridiculous! These twins were practically super-human!

    Both girls begged me to stay in the pool, but after an hour my back and legs needed rest, and when I got out and dried myself off, I considered that if my skin was darker and my frame a bit shorter, someone could certainly mistake me for a prune. So I sat next to their mother and we talked awhile and I watched the girls practice their swimming and they looked so proud of themselves for what they accomplished. It is times like today that I need to remember when I do become complacent, or I wonder if the road I chose several years ago was the right one. There is something amazing about children smiling, and laughing, and goofing off, and something inspiring about the joy you know they feel, and it’s painted all over their faces. They couldn’t hide it if they wore a brown bag over their heads. You know they are happy because they accomplished something they didn’t know how to do just an hour before. They feel like they are one rung closer to being bigger and better. Seeing such satisfaction beaming from the eyes of a couple of 7-year-olds makes every slur, saliva, insult, and rock thrown my way absolutely worth it. I feel stronger and more convinced that everything I have done in the past several years to protect children is important and paramount to the survival of smiling, laughing and goofy kids. I feel lucky that I’m alive and I can do more to protect them.

    I have a stronger sense of resolve for eliminating from the Earth those who would rather children suffer. I seek to exact revenge against anyone who would harm such innocent, happy, and carefree souls. Scumbags like that will never have to worry about a new-law-come-knocking that will show justice to me, instead they’ll have to beg for a law that would keep me from demonstrating my rage upon them! No law could or would ever give me any measure of satisfaction if it doesn’t also, and most importantly, protect innocent children first.

    I am not the type of person who is always dissatisfied. I would like to applaud these bishops in Massachusetts and believe they hold the horror of child sexual abuse above everything else, but I won’t. The Catholic Church isn’t interested in fairness and justice. They are still afraid of the whole truth, and if they won’t admit it entirely, what evidence do I have to convince me that anything is different today? If you think everything we know about now, regarding child sexual abuse within the Catholic Church is an epidemic, I think about everything I know and everything I know you know and I think we’ve only just scratched the surface. You are free to believe anything you wish, and you can believe that the Catholic Church has curbed instances of abuse, but I believe they’re just getting better at hiding it and covering it up. Why else would they send known predator priests to third-world countries in which the majority of the population is impoverished, underprivileged, and ranked within the top 10 worldwide in “rape cases reported,” and ranked first in “child rape cases discovered (and reported)?” The Church may feel they can con the sheeple, but I am not so gullible. The Church of Baseball doesn’t tell such tall tales!

    I could go on, and on, and on, until my face turns from shades of red, white, and blue and probably every color of the rainbow until I explode and ruin the rest of my day, but I’m not going to let that happen. It’s been a really great day! I taught two little girls how to swim and I think I’ll celebrate with a cherry waterice at Rita’s and I’m not even going to care if it turns my lips bright red. 🙂

    Peace out!

    1. Rich, Congratulations! I am so happy you had such a good day. Those young girls will always remember how they learned to swim. I’m sure it bought great joy and personal value, horay for you! I totally agree with you in what you say about the Catholic Church. Many of these priests are being sent back to their own country, there, they will rape more children. This Church has a shaded history of not giving a damn about children, they didn’t care ages ago and they still don’t care. Children have no value because they don’t put money in the collection basket. The underground evil that exists in this Church would shock most catholics.

  7. Archbishop John Nienstedt of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who is well known for his outspoken statements against gay people and marriage equality is under investigation by a law firm hired by the archdiocese based on “multiple allegations “that Nienstedt had relations with multiple men, including priests and seminarians.There are also allegations that Nienstedt retaliated against those who refused his advances. Although none of the allegations involve minors, there was an earlier accusation that the archbishop groped a boy during a photo session for confirmation into the church. Hypocrisy: thy name is the Catholic Hierarchy.

  8. The New York Times is reporting that the Diocese of Kansas City (Finn) is being fined 1.1 million dollars for “failing to improve abuse reporting.” The failure is based on the Ratigan pornography debacle and Finn’s cover up of it.

  9. When I joined this group I was hoping to find a connection that would help me figure out how to stay Catholic as that faith had been the center of my life. When u came to terms with my violation 45 years ago I was hanging on by my finger nails showing up at church but struggling to be there. I was afraid of losing my faith and have relatives that I have indented lost the faith in what the institution represents, all the hypocrisy, all the pain. But in losing that it has made room for a stronger faith which is based on the Beatitudes and love of neighbor. It has been a Dark Night experience. I still can aspire to model after some of the saints who I have loved and their examples of how to live, but focus not on their loyalty to an institutional church but to the message and spirituality they demonstrated. It is a purer faith, a more universal faith.
    It seems ironic that I would come here to try to keep something and in the process lose it but then to be given something better and stronger. I don’t want to fool myself and become a slacker and get in the trap of my worship being the Sunday newspaper. It would be wonderful to connect with others in the same situation as was suggested in a previous thread if that was somehow possible. I just want to take this time to thank all who contribute and have helped me thus far on this leg of my journey. My violation occurred in Boston so this current topic is very painful and close to home.

    1. I believe you are walking through what I call the “dark nite of the soul”. hang in there, the outcome is beyond anything you can imagine.

  10. “The bill would extend the statute of limitations for filing suits against alleged perpetrators and, in future cases, the people or institution supervising them. Under the legislation, the victims would be able to file suits up to age 53, instead of the current limit of age 21.”

    Am I reading these right? The RCC is protected when they allowed the perpetrators to roam free all these years. Read several articles and the same thing sticks out in my brain damaged head. in future cases does this protect the bishops? At least the names will be published, hopefully with their titles.

    It will allow this:

    “Carmen L. Durso, a lawyer for sexual abuse victims and a vocal supporter of the bill, also hailed its passage. “It will open the doors of the courthouse to thousands, literally thousands of people who have otherwise been excluded from being able to file suits,” Durso said by phone. “This will give them the opportunity to name their perpetrators and do what almost all of them want to do, which is make sure their perpetrators can’t get to other victims.””

    That will be great if we are permitted to post these names and notify the communities where they live.

    Anyone know the bill number?

    Dennis, still praying for you and your family.

  11. Hello Everyone,

    I wanted everybody to know that I am fighting and in no way am I planning to let anyone down. I wanted you to know although everything is not back to the way I want it the prayers you said for me are being answered. I have a
    therapist that I see three times a week and most important I like her and trust her. Although what Father Hermley did to me made me create a always defensive personality (screaming at the top of my lungs) I am responsible for my actions.

  12. I really like my therapist a lot she gives me books to read and asks me to write notes when I see something that reminds me of myself. I read a book about being verbally abusive and I am ashamed I fit into some of those profiles. She gave me a book yesterday to read called Wounded Boys Heroic Men that I will start reading when
    finished here. I learned I am not as
    strong as I thought thinking I could deal
    with this on my own. Although I may have seen to be a guy who beat what happened to me by what I wrote on blogs inside it was only me wishing to be that person. Now for some good news. My nightmares have diminished a little and I don’t think about Hermley as much I did. I am now and most likely will when I read that book, but I have forgave him I look at it as I do not know what happened in his childhood. I sometimes even pray for him. Now the best news. I HAVE RETURNED GOING TO CHURCH. I am not going to a Catholic Church but the one I belong to. It took
    what is happening to me NOW to open
    my heart, believe in the power of
    prayer. Although some of my prayers
    Have been pleadings I know he hears them he maybe thinking them over

    hears them and maybe just thinking them over.
    I know someone wants a guarantee not that I am somehow cured, accept it or not Hermley will always be part of my life, but a guarantee that I will not stop therapy

  13. As I have done in the past. She told me how there was a change when I went in the past and when I stopped I went back to my old ways. I am searching for a way to give her that guarantee. Not just some promise in a letter that can be broken anytime, but I want to give her a real guarantee like a. COURT ORDER, so when I get to those tuff times in therapy which will come I don’t quit. She has also stressed I return to church. Well that one is GRANTED. I am not going to church for her, I am finally going for myself.

    I end this my friends asking you for your continual prayers. There are those bad days and it hurts so much. I ask you to pray that soon my family is together again, so two ladies will be able to see my love, devotion, respect and appreciation for the both of them.

    You are all in my prayers.

    1. My prayers continue. I’m so glad you found a therapist who is a good fit. The best thing about a bad day is that it eventually ends. The next day is always an opportunity for a good day. Thank you for your returned prayers.

  14. Dennis, Thank you foir keeping us “in the loop”. I think of you very often. I know your walk well, I have tread along the same walk. Having a therapist you trust is paramount to your recovery. It took me 15 years before I could trust my therapist, that’s how wounded I was. We are a “team” by that I mean I “show up” and so does she. She helped me to not give her power but to see the worth in myself. I was FINALLY seen! I was FINALLY heard. What a divine gift she is to me.
    I keep you, my friend, in my thoughts and prayer. Take your time, be “self-caring” with yourself, no judgements. Let us know from time to time how your doing. We care.

  15. I agree with Kristine Ward’s (National Survivors Advocates Coalition) editorial asking that we hold our applause on Francis’s recent meeting with survivors. Utterly disheartening, arrogant, out-of-touch, and inappropriate was his request that survivors furnish him forgiveness, the entire theme of his meeting with them. Nothing should be asked of survivors! Nothing! Ward questions why Francis, the leader of a world institution that knowingly orchestrated the cover up of sexual abuse, will not embrace full accountability, will not remove clerical “players,” will not provide the Australian commission with recently requested files and documents, will not remove Finn, will not support SOL legislation, will not, will not, will not, will not… Accountability calls for fair, just, and concrete actions! Instead, Francis, and O’Malley as his counselor, with their forgiveness theme, protectively hover above and theoretically beyond the real, down to earth, hurting, painful, and living hell realities of survivors. The ongoingness of the failure of 3 papacies to ACT with full accountability is nothing short of immoral. Literally, another crime in itself. Because the offending institution is a religious one, its arrogant leaders are infused with the appalling nerve to redefine accountability and “work it” on some sort of ethereal level where the tables get turned and where, somehow, mysteriously and beyond our understanding, survivors owe THEM something… forgiveness!

    O’Malley. I hold you responsible. You are the failure this time around.

    1. Kate: I sat here at my computer applauding you every word. Forgiveness is earned. This pope and those preceding him have done nothing to earn forgiveness from any survivor. I, for one am still waiting for a sincere public apology where the Catholic Hierarchy accepts total responsibility for what has happened to innocent children .I am still waiting for a total acknowledgement of the role that the Hierarchy played in the cover up of the abuse and the further harm that was done to even more innocent children by their cover up. This pope , his predecessors and most of the Hierarchy continue to talk down to victims .They continue to believe that they have this divine power. Until that goes away, forgiveness is not possible.

  16. Jim I totally agree with you and I hope and pray you get justice one day you deserve it. Forgiveness is a gift to be freely given not coerced. Archbishop Chaput keeps mentioning “fairness”…….I believe “fairness” demands that all survivors get justice………the older I get though the more I realize that people and life are not fair even those who proclaim and demand fairness in the Catholic leadership………..

    1. Beth: I am going to be perfectly honest with you. When news of the age limitations on the Statute of Limitations bill were announced, I became extremely angry. I felt that we were all in this together. When people who blog on this site supported this legislation, I became even more angry. The fact of the matter is that I have no legal case. The priest who abused me died awhile back. The other priest who was there, Albert Kostelnick has also passed away. The other boy who was with me that day, I don’t know what has become of him .I believe he may have been killed in Vietnam. My concern for justice is not so much for myself but for others who may be now in the throws of addiction and who may recover and find the same memories that I found when I stopped drinking.If they are pass the age of fifty, they will have no legal recourse .Are there such victims out there? I myself have no doubt. My anger has subsided quite a bit. By sharing that I was angry[something that I never used to do-I kept it bottled up inside], the anger has lessened.I thank you and all those who support victims.

      1. Hello Jim, I always look forward to hearing from you on these blogs and I am never disappointed. I feel a certain kinship with you as we are in the same boat. As you accurately pointed out, there will be many victims who will find out to late that they cannot sue because of the unneccessary statue of limitations, due to their drug abuse or any abuse that helps them to cope with their horrific pain. As far as you being angry, you have a right to that anger, what we do with it is what’s important. Your blogs must be an outlet to some of that anger. I go to therapy and still spill out my rage and anger, then i ask myself what can I do to help me find some peace. On my particular spiritual walk, I am finding some answers.
        People who supported the legislation saw it as something is better than nothing. I agree with you, what about us and all the victims who will never have an opportunity to find justice, I get it. This is why I must for my own sanity, find in me a place of peace. Justice may not come for us, my friend, but rest assured, justice will come for all those, that in the name of God, raped small children. I believe this with my whole heart. Keep bloging, we are in solidarity together!

  17. Some idiot lawyer on the radio recently said there needs to be an age limit on the SOL because people can’t remember things years later. He made the comment he didn’t remember what kind of toast he had last week. I bet he remembers where he was when the towers came down in NY Violation for a child is there 9/11. I am in my 60s and a Boston victim but it’s too late for me.
    You either remember it like a video tape or are so traumatized it all comes back later. I remember what I was wearing on 9/11 and that day almost 50 years ago. I have never forgotten a detail. My friend escaped the towers and only remembers getting on the ferry. The sight of falling bodies was too much for her nervous system. I fear for her the day it might resurface and pray she is spared that.. Sir a violation is not a piece of toast!

    1. Suzpt, Excellent point and example. I will add that there is no SOL on murder in PA. And DNA evidence is rarely a factor. Usually the evidence is the same as would be introduced in a child sex abuse case.

    2. suzpt, you need to take your excellent comment to the halls of the legislature and lay it the distant and removed lawmakers who would surely be made to “get it” via your 911 analogy.

Leave a Reply