How evil and devastating that judges, district attorneys and law enforcement yielded the rule of law to Catholic hierarchy on reports of child sexual abuse by clergy in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese.
When did the Catholic Church become a branch of the judiciary? It’s inconceivable that those regarded to be of highest moral fiber and holiness can derail justice. Innocent children had their lives drastically altered, if not fatally, by these crimes. Their futures were shattered by the horrors of their abuse that never affords them a day to live away from that stark reality.
Offending clergy were pedophiles returned to “jurisdiction” of bishops, lawless in moving and hiding these predators. Bishop Mark Bartchak’s language echoes that of Pope Francis, which remains highly noncommittal to the activity of real change. In 2014, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child condemned the Vatican for global child sexual abuse and continued practices to move clergy and cover it up.
The grand jury report revealed these offenders are protected by archaic statute of limitations laws. Please contact state legislators and demand SOL reform to pass House Bill 655 without amendments, abolishing the time limit for reporting child sexual abuse, and HB 951 without amendments, allowing a two-year window for victims to file a civil suit.
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With retroactive legislation, let’s hope this dismal chapter in Pennsylvania history produces protection under state law that all child sexual abuse victims deserve.
Rosalind Merritts, Hollidaysburg