Chaput’s Strategy Backfires

Click here to read: “Philly Archdiocese’s push against bill reminds councilman of ‘Spotlight,'” by Daniel Craig, Philly Voice, June 2016

 

Click to see video of Bill Greenlee On Reports of Church Retaliation Against Legislators

Click here to read: “Child rapists deserve no safe harbor,”  by Nick Miccarelli, Times Guest Columnist, June 8, 2016, DelcoTimes.com.

Excerpt: 

I was nothing short of shocked when a dear friend of mine sent me a picture of the St. Rose of Lima Church bulletin on Saturday. It read, “State Representative Nick Miccarelli voted in favor of House Bill 1947 which states that private institutions can be sued as far as 40 years ago for millions of dollars, while public institutions may not be sued for any crimes committed in the past.” This statement, printed in the church bulletin, is patently untrue. The simplicity of this statement leaves out much, but most glaringly it leaves out the true goal of the bill. I did vote in favor of HB1947 because as I reviewed the legislation, forefront in my mind was justice for the victims, not sympathy for the predators that committed heinous crimes against children or any public or private institution that allowed sexual abuse to continue unaddressed. HB1947 will allow those who have been molested as children to have their day in court.

There is no one, and I mean no one, with any understanding of the law who would claim “public institutions may not be sued for any crimes committed in the past.” Google “Jerry Sandusky Penn State Lawsuit” if you need to see evidence that public institutions can be sued. What this bill did was to expand the statute of limitations for claims of child molestation. Put simply, it allows those people who are raped as children more time to face those who raped them. I was one of 180 members of the House of Representatives who believe this bill will help victims. We also believe that this bill would let child predators across Pennsylvania know that they will not be free from punishment if they simply run out the clock.

 

You’re Invited to Rallies in Harrisburg on Monday

Supporters for HB 1947 will gather at 8am and noon on Monday at the Capitol steps (3rd  Street between Walnut and North) in Harrisburg. Monday is the day senators will meet for hearings on the constitutionality of the bill.

HB 1947 Is Constitutional and Does Not Attack Church

FACT SHEET:
On the Constitutionality of HB 1947

Background: Currently in Pennsylvania, a survivor of child sex abuse has until age 50 to file criminal charges and age 30 to initiate a civil suit if the abuse occurred after 2002. Anyone abused before that year has much less time to report abuse.

HB 1947 seeks to eliminate time barriers to file criminal and civil cases for those abused after the bill becomes law. It would affect both private and public institutions, however much misinformation has been spread about this bill and its constitutionality.

Claim: HB 1947 is unconstitutional.

Fact: This charge has been leveled against attempts to reform the statute of limitations in numerous other states, including California, Delaware, Massachusetts and Connecticut. In all of these cases, the legislation was found to be constitutional.

Claim: HB 1947 does not apply to public institutions.

Fact: HB 1947 will apply equally to private and public institutions going forward. Due to the sovereign immunity protections afforded to state institutions by the Constitution

of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it appears that this reform cannot apply retroactively to them.

Claim: HB 1947 specifically targets the Catholic Church.

Fact: Statute of limitations reform is not limited to any specific group or organization, religious or otherwise. In fact, there are countless institutions that have protected abusers, such as schools, hospitals, scout organizations, sports programs and juvenile facilities. Furthermore, over 90 percent of survivors were abused by family members or close acquaintances, which will also be covered by HB 1947.

 

From the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse – Protecting Children/Restoring Hope

Philly Clergy Resorts to Spiritual Shaming

Click here to read: “Priests, parishes target Pa. legislators who backed sex-abuse bill,” by Maria Panaritis, The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 8, 2016

Excerpt:

One lawmaker called it “electioneering.” Another grew emotional as she recounted being snubbed by a priest. A third penned a Facebook screed that became the buzz of the House of Representatives.

Legislators expressed outrage this week after they said they had been named by priests at Mass, in church bulletins or in some other way rebuked by the Catholic Church for supporting a bill that would let child sex-abuse victims sue individuals and private institutions decades after the abuse occurred.

Editor’s Note:

  • Revolting;
  • Church should be a sacred spiritual refuge not a bully pen;
  • Does Pope Francis condone these shaming tactics?
  • Is this how Jesus would approach this?
  • Kathy and I applaud these state legislators who have stood up for children and victims. They are far more Christ-like than the priests who attempt to shame them.

Delaware Illustrates Impact of PA Child Sex-Abuse Reform

Click here to read: “To understand Pa. battle over clergy sex-abuse victims law, look to Delaware,” by Maria Panaritis, The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 5, 2016

Excerpt: In all, U.S. Catholic institutions have paid some $2.2 billion in settlements and court-ordered abuse damages since 2002, said Terry McKiernan, founder of BishopAccountability.org, an advocacy group that has cataloged the scandal. The Los Angeles Archdiocese alone paid $660 million to 508 victims after California lifted its statute of limitations for a year.

A Survivor’s Take On Pending Legislation

Written by OWLFAN

This past week has been a whirlwind for survivors such as myself with the news that House Bill 1947, which passed in the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in April, would be going to the Senate for hearings in June.  The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has begun circling the wagons in anticipation of this bill passing.  Last Tuesday, Archbishop Chaput and other archdiocesan officials and “consultants” (aka attorneys), gathered for two meetings at St. Helena parish in Blue Bell – ironically, my registered parish!

According to an article by Matthew Gambino on CatholicPhilly.com, “speakers at the meetings described the dire financial impact upon Catholic parishes, schools and institutions that would likely result from an expected flood of civil lawsuits should the bill be approved by the Senate and signed by the governor.”

In coming weeks, parishioners will receive “information about how the legislation might affect them, as well as the parishes, schools, and charitable works they love and support based on what has happened in other states” according to Ken Gavin, spokesman for the archdiocese.

As a survivor, I wanted to give my take on these meetings, the archdiocese response, and the feelings that it has stirred up in me.

First, it is true that the archdiocese and Victims’ Assistance has helped me obtain therapy, doctors and medications.  They pay for all of these visits.  A rough calculation, if I should continue this course of action, until the age of 75, they will spend over $250,000 on my case alone.  Not one person is disputing the facts that the Archdiocese is helping victims in this way.

What is infuriating to me is their response to this proposed legislation and the anticipated message that will be sent to Catholics across the archdiocese.  I had the opportunity to meet with several archdiocesan officials during the investigation of my case.  One on one – they say all the right things.  “I’m sorry.”  “Nobody should go what you went through.”  “We want to hear you – want your help.”

Publically, it is a completely different tact.  Articles and statements are written with innuendo of survivors wanting to bankrupt the church – take it down.  Just read again the statement from Mr. Gavin – bold for emphasis ­-  “… the legislation might affect them, as well as the parishes, schools, and charitable works they love and support …”.  Add to the equation the likelihood of long trials, detailed discovery and the possibility of more scandals being revealed, and you can understand the angst.

So imagine me, sitting in Sunday Mass (already a difficult task for me), and listening to how if this law passes, parishes may close, programs for special education and the poor will not be able to be funded, the Catholic School system, founded in Philadelphia by St. John Neumann, being shut down.

If Ford Motor made an automobile that, due to defects in the manufacturing process, caused the wheels to fly off when reaching speeds of 50MPH, would anyone care that victims would sue because they were injured or killed?  No – it would be justified.  Would anyone care if these suits caused plants to shut down and jobs to be lost?  Absolutely but, unfortunately in life, for every cause there is an affect.  For every action, there is a reaction.

As I was writing this, I was reading from a book for a 12-Step Program that I attend.  I was reading Step 10 – “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it”.  Perhaps I should send the book down to 222.  Sure, I know they can’t be happy with this legislation.  But, a more proper – more appropriate response to survivors would be this – “Yes, we are alarmed by the potential financial impact that HB1947 will have on the Catholic Church in Philadelphia but we acknowledge that crimes were committed against children in the past and we may have to suffer the consequences.  We are confident that, going forward, measures are in place that will insure these crimes will never happen again.  In the interim, we will continue to support victims and accept responsibility for the past.”

So be prepared for the PR onslaught from your pulpit in the next few weeks.  For those of blind faith that don’t want to acknowledge the role of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in this scandal, there will be tears and outrage when the PR machine starts churning out the message of victims wanting to bankrupt the Catholic Church – only in it for themselves – driven by greed and money.

And then look over at me, sitting next to you – and there will also be tears.  For what my Church did to me – and continues to do to me – for I did nothing wrong.

Chaput Calls Priest Meeting On Bill

Click here to read: “With abuse bill looming, Chaput calls priest meeting,” by Maria Panaritis, Philly.com, May 16, 2016

Editor’s note:

This bill would protect all children in Pennsylvania from child sex abusers who have escaped the justice system due to the current statute of limitations. This is not limited to clergy sex abuse cases.

Many other states have enacted this legislation allowing for improved safety and an opportunity for justice. Victims still need to prove their cases in a court of law.

Chaput’s financial concerns are valid. It’s a shame that so many Bishops didn’t apply this same amount of concern to children being raped. Maybe if a parish closes, the faithful will finally stand up and demand real change. The kind of change that will protect children and the future of the Church.

Excerpt: 

“….the meetings come as the state Senate has begun to meet with advocates about a bill to extend the civil statute of limitations on child sex abuse to age 50. Approved overwhelmingly by the House earlier this year, the measure would allow victims to file lawsuits for abuse that happened in some cases several decades ago.”

Progress in Harrisburg Proves Hopeful

Click here to read, “Newall: A long overdue quest for healing and justice,” by Mike Newall, Columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly.com, May 11, 2016

This bill could help so many…

Excerpt:

“Like James Spoerl, who was 44 and lived in Northeast Philadelphia. He suffered through years of depression and addiction stemming from abuse he suffered at the hands of a priest as a 9-year-old altar boy at St. Cecilia Parish.

The statute of limitations had expired when James stepped forward in 2002. It was too late for a civil suit. His mother, Catherine, became her son’s advocate, struggling with the archdiocese, she says, to get him the proper therapy and addiction treatment he needed….

….My son did not live long enough to see a change,” she said of the bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations. “But I hope that others who are waiting to be heard are soon granted this right. No human being should be denied this right.”

A Survivor’s Poem

Broken Silence

by Victoria Cubberley

So enormously disappointed in human kind. Their choice to deny: live in fear, abandon the most innocent whose childlike eyes seek our refuge. In their helplessness, you chose to look away, turn your back on such screaming pain. A thousand years and still you chose to hurt. This history forever embraced, accepted, fear. Is there no one to stand tall with me free of attachments or agendas? Is there one, single, voice that can listen to my cries, my soft child cries? As I keep reaching, will I ever be touched by love? Must I keep standing here-alone, feeling only my own bravery? In this stillness of my loneliness. I am so angry at your cowardice, the ultimate betrayal in your distortion of my God-my God how you tried to take my very breath. There exists no greater sorrow-my life source, my existence, my harboring soul, than to use what held me together-My God!

I chose to stand tall.
I chose to not allow you, priest, to slowly and deliberately decimate me, God’s child.
I chose to embrace my rage at all of you.
I chose silence.
How could you not see, how could you not hear all the many cries of us, your children?

WHERE IS YOUR RAGE?

You chose, in your silence, to partner with evil.
I stood alone. Only God can touch my depth of pain. Love was all I craved on this lonely path. I simply need to be seen!
My deserved rage, hides my deep hurt. Words are futile. They carry no meaning, they just exist. Betrayal speaks in the pained dwelling of my silent scream.

Caltagirone Changes Mind On Child Sex Abuse SOL

Click here to read: “As Pennsylvania Confronts Clergy Sex Abuse, Victims and Lawmakers Act,” by Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times, April 4, 2016

Excerpt:

“Enough is enough,” said State Representative Thomas R. Caltagirone, a Democrat from Berks County, after reading the grand jury report, which he called “revolting.”

For years, in his position as minority chairman of the Judiciary Committee, Mr. Caltagirone helped to block legislation to extend the statute of limitations, but he said in an interview that he now favored it: “We were promised that changes would be made from the top down. Then, dear God, we learn this. I have had it up to here.”

Editor’s Note:

Dear Rep. Caltagirone,

All the other preceding Grand Jury reports weren’t enough? The thousands of letters and calls you received from advocates, parents and victims over the years – weren’t enough?  You can’t plead ignorance and blind faith in Bishops. You were well-informed.

It was politically convenient for you to believe their promises. You were in a position to protect children. This “come to Jesus” came a little late.

However, for many this is a sign of hope – of change. I will try to be optimistic, but I believe most politicians as much as I believe most bishops.