The Archdiocese of Baltimore is urging its Roman Catholic congregants to oppose two bills “currently before the Maryland General Assembly that would remove the statute of limitations on civil claims for future incidents of child sexual abuse and retroactively revive claims that are currently time-barred, no matter how long ago the alleged abuse occurred.” In an email, the Archdiocese reasons that removing the statute of limitations “greatly increases the financial harm to the Church and its ministries,” noting that some 26 dioceses “have already filed for bankruptcy caused by similar laws in other states and more are expected.” Clearly, the Catholic Church is trying to mitigate risk on future claims of its systemic child abuse.
Citing Maryland General Assembly House Bill 001 and Senate Bill 686, the Archdiocese says, “These bills treat public and private institutions differently by setting a lower ceiling on how much a public school board, for example, could be sued compared to a private institution such as a parish or non-public school. This creates two classes of survivors and greatly increases the financial harm to the Church and its ministries.” The email notes that “The Church in Maryland” already provides victims-survivors with millions in therapeutic counseling and direct financial payments as a result of their abuse and has implemented strict prevention policies. It also says that perpetrators can be criminally charged without time limitations.
These bills are about future civil–not criminal–actions. They propose “repealing the statute of limitations in certain civil actions relating to child sexual abuse.” Criminal law deals with offenses against the public, society, or the state. Civil law deals with injury to an individual. Whether bills such as these in Maryland or any other state create two classes of survivors is really immaterial. The Roman Catholic Church is seeking to deprive compensation to victims-survivors of child sexual abuse perpetrated by its priests. BishopAccountability.org documents that the US Catholic Church has paid out over $3 BILLION on cases dating back to the 1950s, representing only a fraction of an estimated 100,000 victims. Let me be clear: No child should ever be sexually abused, especially by leadership of any church, any denomination.
In November 2022, Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh completed a 463-page report on an investigation that identified 158 Roman Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Baltimore accused of abusing more than 600 victims over 80 years. Of course, Archbishop William Lori apologized, but the Archdiocese is calling on all Maryland Catholics to oppose legislation to allow FUTURE civil relief of victims and is spending millions to lobby against these bills. Not only does that apology ring hollow, the opposition means that this atrocity is not finished. It’s likely ongoing. Christ said in Matthew 18:6, “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” How much tithe money perpetuates this evil and stains the hands of givers?