My head wants to explode whenever I read about how the Catholic Church’s objections to the Child Victims Act (“CVA”) are based on preventing injustice to someone who might be falsely accused. Right, they’re just looking out for the little guy.
This argument defies any and all credulity. In places where reforms to the statute of limitations have been enacted, the incidence of false claims has been so small that it isn’t worth considering, except to show how uncommon they are. This is especially pertinent since the very few false claims which are made rarely ever actually make it into a courtroom.
So, to prevent even that possibility, the enemies of the CVA are willing to deny justice to all survivors of past child sexual abuse, many (if not most) of whom have lived tragically challenging and painful lives as a result of it.
Let me put the scope of this travesty into some context. Last night I searched Google for news reports in the media concerning cover-ups of child sexual abuse by the clergy to see if it is really as bad as it seems. In under an hour I found (at least) one allegation reported in each of the following US states* since the start of 2018: AL; AZ; CA; CO; CT; DC; DE; FL; GA; HI; ID; IL; IN; IO; KS; LA; MA; MD; ME; MI; MN; MO; MT; NC; ND; NH; NJ; NM; NY; OH; OR; PA; SC; SD; TN; TX; UT; VA; VT; WA; WV & Guam! With some states having more than I was willing to keep track of.
What are the odds that an institution with all these accusations threatening its reputation and with an already dramatically compromised credibility, would be more trustworthy than a person who was sexually abused as a child. A child who then grew up and lived the majority of her or his life with so much shame and guilt they were unable to tell anyone about it until well after the law prevented it. Please really think about this.
Personally I find it difficult to understand how any institution, whether it be the Catholic Church, Boy Scouts of America or Orthodox Jewish group, can support a miscarriage of justice so egregious it openly favors the predator over the prey. But folks, we’re not done examining why this should be a no-brainer. We know (as does the RC Church) that when old allegations can be investigated, perpetrators who are still grooming and abusing children (they do not stop until caught) can be identified and more children are protected. In just one state’s experience over 400 active predators were exposed in the first year after an equivalent law was enacted there.
For even more context let’s consider that child sexual abuse by Catholic priests accounts for less than 5% of the total in the US. So for every sex abuse scandal involving the Catholic Church (that we know about; 42 states so far in 2018) there are nearly twenty times that many others being blocked from having access to the judicial system. These are the people who were abused as children by parents, siblings, relatives, teachers, coaches, troop leaders, janitors or security guards; by anyone other than by a priest. What in God’s name gives the opponents of the CVA the right to deny these survivors justice while at the same time letting their abusers continue to harm children with impunity.
However, this obstruction does make sense if you look at what is at stake for these organizations, at least in their thinking. When legitimate claims make it into the court system, due process dictates “discovery” where both parties have to produce their records, showing what they knew, when they knew it and what they did or didn’t do about it at the time. There are no more secrets. When you consider that by far, the majority of the inquiries in those 42 states (* & 36 countries) involve secrets, guarded religiously for decades, it all makes perfect sense.
Bad hiring practices and poor candidate screening aren’t the reasons there have been so many, many cases of children being sexually abused by Catholic priests. What has been uncovered, and will continue to be learned through the discovery process, is that most of the victims of these child molesters would not have been victims at all if the bishops at the time (Cardinals of today) had not hidden the truth by transferring the offending priest to another unsuspecting population; again and again and again. On the rare occasion when an allegation had to be taken more seriously and appropriate actions were taken, the crimes were still kept hidden and the survivors were kept silent with non-disclosure contracts; while predators kept on destroying children’s lives.
Please tell me there are others out there who are as enraged as I am at the heartless hypocrisy and the lack of morality that the leaders of the Catholic Church, the world’s wealthiest and most influential institution, are showing us. These “leaders” must sense (or outright know) their own culpability in these atrocities which they demonstrate each and every time they put their own security ahead of the well being of children they should have protected.
We cannot allow them to wield their wealth, power and influence to stifle the Child Victims Act for the 12th year in a row. Call, write or tell your State Senator in person that you want to see them vote on the CVA, this year, for all to see if they will listen to the powerful or the vulnerable.
*While I was looking through my Google results I couldn’t help but notice the same was true for each of the following countries: Argentina; Australia; Canada; Chile; Columbia; Egypt; Fiji; France; Germany; Great Britain; Honduras; India; Indonesia; Ireland; Israel; Italy; Malawi; Malta; Mexico; Netherlands; New South Wales; New Zealand; Nigeria; Northern Island; Peru; Russia; Scotland; South Africa; South Korea; Spain; Switzerland; Vatican City; Venezuela; and Wales.