Saturday, August 18, 2018

"What’s next after Catholic Church sexual abuse report? Advocates want stricter laws.", By Reis Thiebault Washington Post, Clerical Model of top down management must be changed to a community of equals open, transparent model that includes married priests and women priests, Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP

Victims of clergy sexual abuse and their family members react as Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro speaks during a news conference at the Pennsylvania Capitol in Harrisburg, Pa., on Aug. 14. (Matt Rourke/AP)

My Response: This report from the Pennsylvania grand jury makes it clear that the  Roman Catholic Church's male-dominated, hierarchical system protects bishops and priests as its top priority in dealing with sexual abuse cases. Not only are stricter laws needed, but a total dismantling of the clerical culture and a new model of ordained ministry - including women priests and married priests- in an accountable  community of equals. Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP,, 

"A sweeping grand jury report released Tuesday alleged widespread sexual abuse among Pennsylvania priests while church leaders covered it up. Its graphic victim accounts of abuse by more than 300 priests shocked Catholics in the state and reverberated around the world.Yet, the nearly 1,400-page report made clear that few criminal cases may result from the massive investigation, which has left many wondering what’s next for victims.
So far, criminal or civil penalties for the accused priests have been scant. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said the state’s statutes of limitations have hamstrung his ability to file charges and stonewalled victims seeking justice.
Under current Pennsylvania law, victims of child sexual abuse have until they are 30 to file civil suits and until they are 50 to file criminal charges. The oldest victim in the grand jury report was 83.

But legal experts say the grand jury report will lend new momentum to statute-reform efforts that have been percolating in Pennsylvania and beyond for years.
“This will reignite these battles at the state level,” said Michael Moreland, a law professor at Villanova University, a Catholic school outside Philadelphia.
Leading the effort in Pennsylvania is state Rep. Mark Rozzi (D), who said he was raped by a priest at his Catholic school and has been a longtime advocate for victims of child sexual abuse.
“No doubt,” Rozzi said in an interview. “The time for justice and the time for accountability is now.”
When the legislative session reconvenes in September, he plans to rewrite an existing bill with the goal of eliminating statutes of limitations, which, he says, have “aided and abetted” the priests and their superiors. Rozzi has called the state’s statutes of limitations “archaic” and “arbitrary.
This builds on one of the recommendations that the grand jury made and that Shapiro endorsed. Rozzi said he’s going to push for the grand jury’s other recommendations, which include clarifying the penalties for failure to report child abuse and specifying that communications with law enforcement are not covered by confidentiality agreements — a tool the church allegedly used to silence abuse victims.
But most controversial is the grand jury’s recommendation to open a two-year “civil window” in the existing statutes of limitations that would allow victims older than 30 to sue the church for damages, no matter when the abuse occurred.
“These victims ran out of time to sue before they even knew they had a case,” the grand jury wrote.
Attempts to open a window in the statutes of limitations for civil cases have had mixed success, and have been stifled before in Pennsylvania. The church has lobbied fiercely against such provisions and has argued that it is too difficult to ensure fairness when litigating cases that are 30 years old or more, Moreland said..."

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