legislation, House Bill 1090 and Senate Bill 143, have come under heavy
fire from Catholics and others as they would allow sexual abuse victims
to wait up to 40 years before filing suits against Catholic and other
private institutions in the state.
critics say, is that the bills would unequally punish the Catholic
Church while public school teachers and coaches accused of abuse
would--because of state sovereignty laws--be all but exempt.
however, Senator Fitz-Gerald told the Catholic journalists that the
bishop wanted to “settle down, be calm and get together with the
retired auxiliary bishop of Detroit, has been a strong advocate for the
Colorado legislation and others like it around the country. He admitted
earlier this year to having been sexually abused by a priest as a young
man, but has refused to name his abuser.
Catholic group, gathered at the state capital, proceeded to ask
Fitz-Gerald to recall that under the Colorado Sunshine Law, any meeting
involving more than one senator is public, and therefore, open to
anyone willing to attend, including journalists.
responded: “Is this an intimidation?” The journalists explained that
they only wanted to know if the scheduled luncheon was on, because if
it was going to happen, it was a public meeting, and therefore, they
had the right to attend.
obviously know the law… now please step out of my office,” said
Fitz-Gerald, requesting that the reporters wait outside, without giving
any further information about the event.
35 minutes after
the event was scheduled to begin, Bishop Gumbleton, surrounded by
Fitz-Gerald’s aides and by Barbara Blaine, National President of SNAP,
arrived on the scene, coordinated for a few minutes and then proceeded
into the senator’s office.
journalists who had been invited, one from the Associated Press and one
from the Denver Post, were informed that because of the presence of the
“Catholic troops” –referring to the three Catholic journalists
present--it was impossible to keep the original plan.
Fitz-Gerald announced to them--and not the Catholic journalists
present, who were never addressed by either the senator or any of her
assistants--that the meeting with Bishop Gumbleton would be
private--with just with one senator at a time--as a way to prevent the
Sunshine law from applying and keep the Catholic press out of the
Ms. Blaine, who
remained inside Senator Fitz-Gerald’s office for the meetings, informed
the eight senators present, that the nature of meeting had changed, and
would be one on one. Two of them decided to leave.
Finally, in the span of an hour and a half, Bishop Gumbleton met with 6 state senators.
approached Catholic News Agency to say that the reason why the meeting
between the bishop and the senators was private was because Bishop
Gumbleton had made a commitment to Church authorities not to speak in
public about his opinions.
that it had tried to contact Bishop Gumbleton through the Diocese of
Detroit, but were advised that the bishop handles his own agenda and
commitments in a completely independent manner.
informed Blaine that Senator Fitz-Gerald changed the original public
nature of the event, to which Associated Press and Denver Post were
invited, only after learning that members of the Catholic Press were
Blaine only responded by saying, “I cannot speak for Fitz-Gerald.”
Fitz-Gerald to ask her about her comments regarding the presence of
Catholic Press and why she tough it was “intimidating.” “I haven’t said
anything and I have nothing to say about the Catholic press,” she
quoted in the Denver Rocky Mountain News Thursday as saying that
“Gumbleton…maintains that openness is 'the only way the Catholic Church
can get beyond the scandal.”
afternoon however, it was Fitz-Gerald and Blaine who told CNA that
Gumbleton himself insisted on the day's closed-door secrecy. Kevin
Knight, a well respected Catholic Colorado Native who came to attend
the meeting said that "it was ironic to hear SNAP's lecture about
bishops who won't meet with people -- as we stood outside their own
bishop's locked door."
Thursday, a Denver Catholic Register journalist, and the respective
editors of ‘New Advent’ and Catholic News Agency approached to the
office of Joan Fitz-Gerald, president of the Colorado Senate, expecting
to attend a scheduled luncheon with Detroit’s Bishop Thomas J.
Gumbleton, who was in town to discuss two state bills which would lift
the statutes of limitation on some cases of sexual abuse.