Child sex abuse bill doesn’t seek justice for everyone
In reference to her Oct. 1 op-ed in The Queens Courier and Ridgewood Times, I agree with Assemblywoman Margaret Markey that our state and nation must do everything we can to eliminate child sex abuse and bring those accountable for such crimes to justice. Where Markey and the Catholic Church part ways is in her methodology.
To be clear, Assemblywoman Markey is not proposing changes to the criminal statute to allow offenders to be brought to trial and imprisoned. Indeed, the church has supported changes that would extend the period of statute of limitations for just such a purpose. Moreover, the church has supported extending the statute of limitations in a reasonable way so that both individuals and institutions might be civilly liable.
What we do not support is a half measure that fails to protect all our children and only seeks “justice” for some. Due to the extra protections given to public institutions in existing law, Assemblywoman Markey’s bill would not offer the same opportunities to bring time-barred lawsuits against public schools and municipalities as it would for the Catholic Church and other private institutions.
In the last decade, the Catholic Church, not unlike other institutions both public and private, has become painfully aware of our past failures to protect children. Today, no institution private or public is more diligent in the protection of young people and transparent when crimes and misconduct occur.
In Catholic schools and programs, each and every adult, whether an employee or volunteer, must submit to a criminal background check, sign a code of conduct and receive ongoing training. Each child is instructed in an age appropriate manner to be vigilant about telling adults when a boundary is violated.
We also voluntarily submit to an ongoing independent audit to prove we are in compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, established in June 2002 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Child sex abuse is a crime. We support every effort to bring criminals to justice. The fact is that the Markey bill is tragically flawed, in that it neither protects children nor delivers justice for all for those who are survivors of abuse.
Bishop Sanchez is pastor of Our Lady Queen of Martyrs Church in Forest Hills.
Our Lady Queen of Martyrs
Most Rev. Paul R. Sanchez, D.D., Pastor
Very Rev. Francis J. Passenant, V.F., Administrator
Rev. Antonin Kocurek, Parochial Vicar
Rev. Joseph L. Cunningham, Priest in Residence
Church is wheelchair accessible through Queens Blvd. entrance
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