Loading
Archbishop Chaput calls for fairness in sex-abuse lawsuits, settlements
Archbishop Chaput calls for fairness in sex-abuse lawsuits, settlements

.- As controversy heats up nationwide and particularly in Colorado over the question of amending statutes of limitation for sexual abusers, Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput is saying that any new legislation “must be comprehensive, fair, and equally applied.”

In his article in the May issue of First Things, entitled “Suing the Church”, the archbishop addresses the problem of extending statutes of limitation and the impact it has on Catholic communities in particular.

Colorado’s state Senate is scheduled to meet this morning to debate passage of new legislation which would remove the statutes and open the Church up to a flood of lawsuits. Many Catholics around the state are calling the state’s two potential bills “blatantly anti-Catholic.”

When California Senate Bill 1779 became law, it opened a one-year window to revive expired California sex-abuse claims, some from 70 years ago. More than 1,000 plaintiffs filed previously expired claims. Legislation, modeled on California’s, would likely bring about the same thing in Colorado.
 
“Statutes of limitation exist for good reasons: to protect justice, not prevent it. They were created to encourage a timely and fair resolution of claims, which is why law-enforcement officials support them. Over time, memories fade, witnesses die, evidence grows stale, and fraudulent claims increase,” he writes.

The archbishop also pointed out discrepancies in the ways that sexual abuse claims and lawsuits are treated in the Church versus public institutions, particularly public schools, where the problem is far worse.

“For exactly the same sexual abuse in a public school and a Catholic parish, the difference in financial exposure is millions of dollars,” he writes. The same rules must be applied to all institutions right across the board, he insists.

He also criticizes the move in several states to extend the statutes of limitations, saying that it “makes no sense to hold innocent people accountable today for the evil actions of a small number of individuals from decades ago.”

“The people paying for these abuse settlements are innocent Catholic families who had no part in events of the past. Revenge is not justice, no matter how piously one argues it. Punishing the innocent is wrong, yet that’s exactly what laws imposing ‘retroactive liability’ are designed to do,” he says.

He argues that settlements should be based on “balanced restitution” and based on “what will help a wounded person heal and find a fresh start—and not on a litigation ‘market price’ based on the last highest settlement paid by another institutional defendant.”

“Communities of faith have an obligation to generously help the people who have been hurt by their members, past or present” he writes. But he maintains that they also have a right to maintain their mission of serving others.

The move to amend the statutes “could easily decimate the remaining resources of the Catholic faithful in the United States and steal the religious future from a generation of Catholic young people,” he writes.

“Caring for the victims of abuse and assisting them sacrificially is a good and urgent thing. So is fighting bad laws. We need to focus earnestly on both,” he concludes.

 


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)
Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis celebrates the closing Mass and announces site of next World Youth Day
Pope Francis visits poor neighborhood and meets with young people from Argentina
Pope Francis celebrates Mass at the National Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida
Denver rally draws hundreds in support of religious freedom
Pope Francis prays over a sick man in St Peter's Square
Denver women's clinic will offer natural, Catholic care
Interview Clips: Barbara Nicolosi speaks to CNA
US Cardinals press conference at North American College
Pope Benedict to retire to monastery inside Vatican City
Pope cites waning strength as reason for resignation
Hundreds convene in Denver to urge respect for life
New Orange bishop encourages Catholic unity in diversity
Chinese pro-life activist calls for reform, international attention
At Lincoln installation, Bishop Conley says holiness is success
Mother Cabrini shrine reopens in Chicago after a decade
Ordination of 33 deacons fills St. Peter's with joy
Cardinal says "Charity is the mother of all the virtues"
Augustine Institute expands evangelization effort with new campus
Bishops recall 'Way of St. James' as chance to trust in God
Los Angeles cathedral's newest chapel houses Guadalupe relic
Apr
23

Liturgical Calendar

April 23, 2014

Wednesday within the Octa ve of Easter

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Mt 28:8-15

Gospel
Date
04/22/14
04/21/14
04/20/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Acts 3:1-10
Gospel:: Lk 24:13-35

Saint of the Day

St. Adalbert of Prague »

Saint
Date
04/21/14
04/20/14

Homily of the Day

Mt 28:8-15

Homily
Date
04/22/14
04/21/14
04/20/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: