The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
to Cardinal Mahony
May 16, 2005
We are deeply troubled by your recent decision, along with your brother bishops in California, to try and overturn California's unique child safety law that allows victims of rape, abuse and molestation the opportunity to seek justice for the crimes committed against them. Your costly legal maneuver will jeopardize children, embolden molesters, keep abuse cover-ups secret, and delay healing for victims and Catholic parishioners by keeping the hundreds of civil molestation lawsuits against clergy tied up in court battles for years to come.
We were also upset by the slanted letter your staff sent to your parishes about the measure.
As you surely know, the law passed with virtually no opposition in the legislature. It's been upheld by several judges. It does not unfairly target the church. (In fact, it doesn't mention the Catholic Church or any other religious body.) It targets child molesters and those who harbor and employ them. It prevents the sexual abuse of children and gives employers incentive to carefully screen prospective employees.
As victims of sexual abuse, our goals are justice, truth and prevention. This law moves us and thousands of other sexual abuse victims closer to these goals.
Thanks to this law, perhaps thousands of California youngsters have been spared lifetimes of anguish and pain. Thanks to this law, hundreds of wounded men and women have found hope and healing. Thanks to this law, hundreds of dangerous men across the state, country and world have been exposed and removed from positions of authority and access to vulnerable children. Even Orange County Bishop Tod Brown has said that the recent settlement and release of documents, made possible by this law, have made his diocese a humbler and holier place.
But you, the Metropolitan See, and your colleagues, want to undo this progress.
We urge you and your brother bishops to stop fighting against the law of California and begin the healing process. Time and money spent fighting the law is a slap in the face to parents who want to protect their children. It's an insult to members of the legislature and judiciary who support this law. It's harmful to victims of abuse and faithful Catholics who want their church to be free of abuse. In fact, we urge all of California's bishops to embrace this new law as a key mechanism that can help keep youngsters safe.
In the interest of protecting children and public safety, you should withdraw your support of this legal challenge.
Your actions send a terrible message to the public: that a Catholic bishop is more concerned with legal maneuvering and overturning a strong public mandate than working with survivors to provide prevention, justice and healing. Surely, this is not the message you intend to send.
Jesus taught his flock to be moral, ethical and to tell the truth in the search for social justice. We ask you to do the same.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests