Group protests outside Baltimore hotel, objects to proposals on abuse

BALTIMORE - As has been the case for years now, a small group of protesters dismissive of the U.S. bishops’ efforts to enact reforms in their handling of sexual abuse cases gather outside the Baltimore hotel where they conduct their general meeting.

This spring is no different, save for the far more pleasant weather of mid-June than the typically chilly weather that greets them in November.

A group of no more than 10 protesters stood in largely silent protest June 11, demanding more from the bishops - specifically, by having them report abuse claims first to law enforcement.

That was one of four points suggested by Becky Ianni of Burke, Virginia, a director of the Washington-area Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, who says she was sexually abused by a priest.

“We don’t think the Church can police themselves,” Ianni told Catholic News Service. If reporting is done strictly in-house in a process controlled by the Church, she added, “how do we learn if they’ve ever gone to the police?”

The second point in Ianni’s plan is for all U.S. dioceses to report the names of accused clergy. Currently, she claimed, about 50 dioceses have not done so. Further, dioceses should include the names of not only accused, but also of “nuns, church employees, brothers, deacons,” along with clergy, plus the number of those who had been abused by each, the period of time abusive acts were believed to have been committed by each person, and whether the police were ever notified.

Third for Ianni is for dioceses to stop lobbying against the elimination of statute of limitations laws. She cited recent reports saying church entities had spent $10 million in the U.S. Northeast to keep the current statutes of limitations in effect, adding that Pennsylvania and South Dakota enacted laws to preserve them.

“It won’t bring healing to victims, and others who have not stepped forward will stay in the shadows if the laws stay intact,” Ianni said. “If you’re not for it (changing the law), at least don’t opp...

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