A diaconal bow of gratitude to Deacon Phillip Franco, from the Diocese of Brooklyn, who in the essay below takes aim at a law working its way through the Albany legislature that would lift the statute of limitations on sex abuse cases—but only on private institutions.
Existing in several different versions, the fundamental problem with the law is that it would be targeted solely at private institutions such as the Catholic Church. Public institutions such as schools would be exempt from the newly opened window for the statute of limitations. In other words, the state is saying, “we care about victims, as long as they’re not our victims.” Sadly, sex abuse takes place everywhere. There are dentists, lawyers, Hollywood stars, a former Speaker of the House of Representatives and many public school teachers who are guilty. Not just priests. Passing this law would be a direct attack on the Catholic Church, which is, by a large margin, the single biggest charitable “institution” in New York. Open the flood gates for cases that go back as many as 70 years, and the incomparable good done by the Church will be diminished and wiped out. Housing, homeless ministry, food pantries, schools and hospitals would be the victims, and the lawyers would have quite the payday. Will the politicians in Albany step up in the place of the void they cause? Unlikely. And now you just might be saying, “Who is he to say? How does he know? What right does he have?” I don’t blame you. But I am by no means someone who just happened to drink the “Catholic Kool-Aid.” I am a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest. My family and I have endured the mess of lawyers and the terrible tragedy of coming forward and dealing with the endless scars of abuse. Lawyers do not bring healing. Christ brings healing. Counseling brings healing. People to walk with you bring healing. Those things were given to me by the Church and my family. The good priests who worked closely with me did not deserve the headline mentioned above, and the Church, providing help to victims, cannot do so if such an unjust law is passed.