August 11, 2009

Catholic Lobbying Group Opposes Child Victims Act

Peaceful protests during the papal visitImage by Premshree Pillai via Flickr

It is not fair to portray the majority of Catholics as child molesters, those who sympathize with them, or those who seek to conceal their crimes so that they might continue. No, the majority of Catholics regard such actions as despicable. Not sufficiently bad to cut off their financial support of the Church, but bad nonetheless. Perhaps this will change their mind.

Writing for FindLaw, Marci A. Hamilton delivers the bombshell:
Based on an unscientific survey of everyone with whom I have spoken in recent months, I have come to the conclusion that there is an untold story that would shock the vast majority of Americans. Pieces of it have appeared in various publications, but never the whole story. It is the story of the New York Catholic Conference's outrageous measures to stop the reform of New York's laws that govern child sex abuse.
It seems that the Catholic Church is now devoting their considerable resources to defeat the Child Victims Act (CVA) in the New York legislature.

The CVA would extend the statute of limitations on child sex abuse by five years and make it somewhat easier for abuse victims to have their day in court. Who would possibly oppose this? According to Ms. Hamilton,
The CVA's most active opponent is the New York Catholic Conference, the lobbying arm for the Roman Catholic bishops.
Her article summarizes the tactics this group has used in their opposition to the CVA. It seems that they will stop at nothing to defeat the legislation.

Ms. Hamilton notes that the New York Catholic Conference is opposing the legislation on the grounds that "window legislation would lead to diocesan bankruptcies and cuts in services." Wow!
The ugliest confrontation to date, which was engineered by the bishops and pitted believers against survivors, occurred in front of Lopez's office. A handful of Jewish and Catholic survivors have been staging a protest there for weeks. DiMarzio organized a group of believers to march in support of Lopez's opposition to the Child Victims Act. Two busloads of people were taken to the neighborhood and told – contrary to the facts, as noted above -- that the CVA did not apply to public institutions and that it would bankrupt the dioceses, causing losses of services. About a dozen survivors, who had been raped as children by priests and rabbis, stood across the street holding signs in favor of the Child Victims Act. When the survivors confronted the sadly uninformed marchers with the truth about the bill and the misinformation from the bishops and Lopez, they told me directly, some of the marchers actually threw coins at the survivors.
I hope Ms. Hamilton is right that this would be upsetting to most Americans. I also hope word of this story spreads far and wide.

H/T to The Good Atheist

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