Cardinal Dolan: Law Helping Abuse Survivors Should Avoid “Breaking” the Church January 8, 2019

Cardinal Dolan: Law Helping Abuse Survivors Should Avoid “Breaking” the Church

As more victims of pedophile priests in the Catholic Church come forward with threats to sue, one cardinal is requesting measures that will avoid “breaking” the Church.

Because we wouldn’t want to hurt the Church’s reputation by exposing child sexual abuse, would we…?

Someone should tell Cardinal Timothy Dolan it’s far too late for that.

His comments came during discussion of a possible bill in New York that would lower the statute of limitations for victims of abuse. As it stands, once you turn 23 in New York, you can’t file a child sexual abuse claim. That would likely change under the new bill, which would also create a one-year window for victims who couldn’t sue in the past for any number of reasons.

If the bill passes, obviously, the Catholic Church would be in a heap of trouble. That’s what worries Dolan, as he wrote in an op-ed for the New York Daily News:

I believe it is important to strengthen the Child Victims Act to ensure that all victim-survivors are the center of this much-needed legislation. The emphasis must be on helping them heal, not breaking government, educational, health, welfare, or religious organizations and institutions.

Way to sneak “religious organizations” in the middle there. If those institutions deserve to be broken for permitting the abuse of children, then break ’em.) Part of that healing process means bringing the offenders to justice, wherever they reside.

Advocates for survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy responded with degrees of wariness:

“No one should be fooled by Cardinal Dolan’s sudden recognition that passing the Child Victims Act (CVA), the vehicle for delivering that justice, is a ‘moral necessity,’” [Assemblywoman Linda] Rosenthal said in an email to NBC News. “Cardinal Dolan knows well that the true path to justice for adult survivors lies in the [one-year] lookback window, in addition to extending the criminal and civil statute of limitations.”

This is a pattern we’ve seen before, both in Catholic and Protestant churches. When clergy say they’d rather handle the situation “internally,” they mean in such a way that the media does not find out about it. The fact is, churches don’t have the resources or the training to investigate and press charges; that’s what the law is for, however imperfectly it may work.

If Dolan truly cares about justice for the victims, he should step aside and let law enforcement do their jobs, prioritizing the welfare of survivors above the Church’s reputation.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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