Letters | Archdiocese responds
RE RONNIE Polaneczky's column "Your e-mail can help fight sex abuse of kids":
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia encourages efforts to strengthenstate laws that would result in greater protection for children, inparticular, lifting the criminal statute of limitations, increasingpenalties for offenses against children, enhancing the Child ProtectiveServices Law's reporting requirements, amending the law to requirebackground checks in non-school organizations and holdingunincorporated associations to the same standard as corporations foroffenses relating to the abuse of minors.
Cardinal Rigali has instructed his representatives to clearly informstate legislators that the archdiocese supports these proposals,recognizing that language of specific bills may change in the course ofthe legislative process.
But the archdiocese is unable to support the retroactive suspensionof civil statutes of limitation or a "one-year window" in cases ofsexual abuse of minors because it is unfair and unworkable. Thisposition concerns much more than money - opening a "window" on civilsuits would invite the miscarriage of justice on a wide scale.
As time passes, discovering the facts becomes harder and sometimeseven impossible as witness recollections fade, or parties and witnessesdie or disappear. Critical records and other evidence may be lost ordiscarded because its significance was not realized in the past. Aprocess where only one side of the story can be told is a fundamentallyunfair process.
The dioceses of Portland, Tucson, Spokane and Davenport, Iowa, havebeen forced to file for bankruptcy to balance their efforts to justlycompensate victims while maintaining the resources necessary to advancethe mission of the church.
Adult survivors of child sexual abuse by clergy face a long andpainful road. The archdiocese is committed to assisting victims in theprocess of building a peaceful life.
Director of Communications
Archdiocese of Philadelphia
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