opinion   |   column

COLUMN: Catholic Church needs to take responsibility



The Catholic Church has been attempting to cover up cases of child sexual abuse for too long.

A bill in Michigan inspired by the Larry Nassar case could extend the amount of time children who experienced sexual abuse have to sue their abusers. This is drawing concern from the Catholic Church, which leads some to believe this concern is an attempt to continue covering up United States' clergy abuse cases.

The bill in question gives child survivors abused in 1993 or later until their 48th birthday to sue their abusers. Those assaulted in adulthood would have 30 years to do so. Currently, child survivors in Michigan only have until their 19th birthday to sue their abusers.

Those who experienced childhood sexual abuse often wait before pressing charges against their abuser or even speaking about the subject due to repression and trauma. 

It is unreasonable to expect children who experienced sexual abuse to be able to speak about the event and sue their abusers before the age of 19. It is a deeply traumatic event that is often difficult for survivors to  come to terms with before then. 

Giving these victims more time allows them to be fully ready to speak about the event and make progress in healing from trauma. This is a bill that should be introduced in all states as well as Michigan.

Michigan Catholic Conference spokesman David Maluchnik stated extending this statute of limitations is of concern to the lobbying arm of the church. At the same time, he said the group supports other parts of the ten-bill package that aim to lower the incidence of childhood sexual abuse. This package includes raising the statute of limitations and a measure that would add people to the list of those who must report suspected sexual abuse to childhood protective services.

The Catholic Church has a long history of sexual abuse scandals and has paid out billions of dollars to settle these cases of clergy abuse. Most recently, even Pope Francis has been silencing those who experienced childhood sexual assault by calling allegations against a priest slander. 

It is unacceptable for the church to continue covering up these cases of sexual abuse for its own benefit. It is extremely unfair to the those who experienced sexual assault and perpetuates a cycle of abuse in which abusers never have to face any consequences.

This has gone on long enough. The Catholic Church needs to take the responsibility for their part in allowing so many cases of child sexual abuse go unknown. 

There is absolutely no reason for the Catholic Church  to oppose this new bill, except for continuing to cover up their own sexual abuse scandals they have been trying to keep hidden for far too long.

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