Schenectady Gazette Editorial re Child Victim’s Act 6-18-17

Editorial: If lawmakers do anything, pass the Child Victims Act

Give child sex abuse victims an opportunity to get justice

Mark Mahoney, | June 17, 2017

New York state lawmakers have left a lot of important matters until the last minute before they end this year’s legislative session later this week.

If they do anything, they need to pass the Child Victims Act and give victims of child sex crimes more time to get the justice they deserve.

The Assembly earlier this month passed a bill (A5885/S6722,S6575) that would do just that.

Child sex abusers have long been protected in New York by a relentlessly early statute of limitations that often does not give a traumatized victim enough time as an adult to remember and report the abuse.

Under current law, there is a five-year statute of limitations for bringing criminal charges in certain sex-related felony crimes involving minors.

Right now, the clock on that five years starts when the victim turns 18. The new law would keep the same five-year statute of limitations, but would start the clock when the victim turns 23 years old. That means victims could be 28 years old and still have charges brought. The clock on the 2-year statute of limitations on certain misdemeanor sex crimes would also start at age 23, giving victims another five years —until they reach age 25 — to bring charges.

Also under the new legislation, victims would have until age 50 to commence civil action against their attackers.

And the bill contains a provision for a one-year window that will allow older victims to come forward within that time frame.

All of our local members of the Assembly (Santabarbara, Woerner, Walsh and Steck) voted in favor of the bill, which passed 139-7 on June 7.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo last week put his considerable political weight behind a version of the bill that essentially mirrors the terms of the Assembly version.

The holdup is in the state Senate, where Republican lawmakers are being pressured by opposition groups, including the Catholic Conference. Apparently, opponents really don’t like the provision that establishes a one-year window for old cases. They feel that some people could be falsely accused, with no evidence or witnesses available after so much time to refute the alleged victims’ claims.

That’s certainly a legitimate concern. The longer a case goes, the more difficult it is to prove, one way or the other.

In an attempt to alleviate concerns about someone being railroaded, one state senator has proposed that a commission be set up to review the validity of those older claims before allowing charges to be brought.

While it might sway some Republican senators to support the legislation, it seems like an unnecessary and cumbersome step designed to shield the criminals.

Regardless of whether there’s a commission or not, each of these cases is going to be brought forward by a prosecutors, who will have to be confident they have enough evidence to make the case. And each case will be heard by judges, who can decide for themselves whether a case has merit. Why create an extra layer?

Victims of child abuse need justice.

The Child Victims Act would help give them that justice.

It needs to be passed this week.

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Let’s rally for Women on Saturday. 10:00am at the Cathedral!

It seems like the Catholic Hierarchy can motor on indefinitely without any observable recognition of women in the Church. We might say the very same things about all baptized in this Church. In spite of Vatican II, in spite of everything learned from history, in spite of our understanding of human development the Church continues to cast a blind eye toward women as anything but silent partners in the governing of the Roman Catholic Church to say nothing of the overwhelming need for a pastoral presence for those in need.

Join us this Saturday am at the Cathedral for a Witness for Women as we stand for inclusion of all the baptized in the working and manifestation of the Roman Catholic Church.  We have done this before and we will persist in making a public statement in the only way open to us, by offering our witness to the fact that women should be ordained in our Church.

Join us on Saturday at 10:00am in front of the Cathedral.  Bring a sign able to be seen from a distance.  We will be present from 10:00 am till 11:00 when the Ordination will begin.  We have some signs for people.

Please let Bill and Ellen Halligan know if you can join us.  Call them at 518- 462-2299. Or send a quick message to them at whalligan@earthlink.net

Support Amended Assembly Child Victims Act Bill

Catholic Justice Organizations Support Amended Assembly Child Victims Act Bill and Urge a Vote

Call To Action Upstate New York and Call To Action Metro New York, Catholic justice organizations, applaud New York’s Assembly leadership for the recent revisions to the Child Victims Act bill, A5885-a, that make it reflect more meaningful reform of the statutes of limitation for crimes of sexual abuse of minors.  We are encouraged by this important step.

We urge the Assembly to vote on this amended bill before the session ends.  The Senate then must make the next move.  They can continue to block the Child Victims Act, as they have in the past, or decide to move it forward so it can finally be voted on in the Senate. This issue and this bill deserve a vote.  New York’s children deserve a vote.  We hope that each legislator will weigh in their conscience the rights and protection of New York’s children, as well as justice for past victims, over the protection of predators.

As Catholics, we were encouraged to see the New York Archdiocese acknowledge the need for restitution for a past harm done to victims by opening the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program to settle cases that occurred in the diocese years ago.  However, this program is limited to victims who were abused by diocesan priests or deacons.  All victims of past abuse deserve that same opportunity, whether they were abused by a church-related person, a coach, or a trusted family member.  We therefore appeal to the New York State Catholic Conference, the official voice of the Catholic Church, to support the Child Victims Act, which would provide a window of time for victims whose cases were denied a court hearing in the past by New York’s outdated statutes of limitation to bring their cases forward.  The CVA would also help to identify perpetrators currently preying on or in contact with children.

Stephen Powers, a long-time leader of Call To Action Upstate NY, remarked, “For the bishops to lobby against a bill with a window – which they have done –  denies a path to justice for the many New York victims who were abused by individuals other than clergy members of the Archdiocese.  It ultimately sends a mixed message about their intentions.”

Let’s get this done so we can all move on with a clear conscience by increasing protection for our children in the future by extending the statutes of limitation and by providing a path for justice with a look-back window for those adults denied justice in the past by woefully outdated statutes of limitation.

We hope the legislature will take a bold step forward in making New York a leader on this issue. We are grateful to the Governor for his January, 2017, statement in support of the Child Victims Act and for his willingness to listen to adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse in order to better understand the need for this reform.  We look forward to his continued leadership on this bill.  It’s time – one could say long overdue – to get this bill passed as an important step towards stopping the scourge of sexual abuse of children.

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 Call To Action Upstate New York, with members in Albany, Syracuse, Rochester and Buffalo, and Call To Action Metro New York, with members in Downstate New York and Long Island, are chapters of the national organization Call To Action (www.call-to-action-usa.org) which seeks to educate, inspire and activate Catholics to promote the values of the Gospel and, in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council, to act for justice and build inclusive worshiping communities.

 

Contact: CTA Upstate NY:  contact@cta-nys.org    Website: www.cta-nys.org

CTA Metro NY: contact@cta-metro-ny.org;    Website: www.cta-metro-ny.org

Why Roman Catholic Women Priests

Dear Friends,
Last weekend, June 18, I joined the Call To Action witness at the Cathedral in Albany, NY. That morning four men were ordained for the Albany Diocese. During the witness, I held a sign that proclaimed: “Women Priests Are Here!” Some of you may wonder why Roman Catholic women are seeking ordination through the Roman Catholic Women Priests movement. Hopefully the points below will help to answer your questions. I am happy to meet and discuss them with you or with a group who is interested in learning more about us.
The best way to contact me is through email at mtstreck@gmail.com.
Many blessings,
Mary Theresa


Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests:

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

 

What do you think about Pope Francis and the new commission for ordination of women deacons?

We are grateful for Pope Francis€’ work to protect mother earth and his care for the poor, for economic equality. However, he must make the connection between poverty and gender justice. Two thirds of the world€’s poor are women and their dependent children.

He has received our ongoing petition campaign to lift our excommunications, stop all punishments and begin a dialogue with us.  

We are a new model of priestly ministry in inclusive, egalitarian communities (open table means everyone is welcome at the table, LGBTQI, divorced and remarried , etc.). In our faith communities, everyone consecrates Eucharist, participates in mutual blessing and dialogue homilies. We are a  renewal, justice movement within the Catholic Church.  

Who is your target group?  

We are serving inclusive Catholic communities where all are welcome to receive sacraments. 33 million Catholics in the U.S. have left the church, so it is a large group of people!

 

What is your vision/mission?

We are a non-clerical movement that offers the church an egalitarian, partnership with the community of the baptized. 

Our mission is to serve especially those whom the Vatican marginalizes (33 million Catholics have left the church -that is quite a “target group” that has been abandoned by the institution).

How do you deal with excommunication?

We reject excommunication. No punishment can separate us from Christ or cancel our baptism. No church authority can separate us from God.  

This is our church and we are not leaving it, no matter what the Vatican says or does (the Vatican’s official line is that our excommunication is the automatic type: by your choice, you have excommunicated yourself).

Why are you being ordained and what impact will your ordination have on the future of women in the RC Church?

The Church that treats women as second-class citizens violates God’s will.

 Genesis 1:27: God created humanity in God’s image, in the divine image, God created them, male and female God created them.   Galatians 3:27.  St. Paul reminds us that by our baptism there is neither male nor female, all are one in Christ.  

Are your orders recognized in the Catholic Church?

Roman Catholic Women Priests have valid orders. Our first bishops were ordained by a male bishop in apostolic succession.

 

Why don’t you get ordained in another church, rather than face excommunication and rejection?

Pope Benedict canonized two excommunicated nuns: Theodore Guerin and Mary McKillop.

We hope that Pope Francis will chart a new path toward human equality in our church by opening all ministries to women. If women were priests, we would see an end to the church’s policy on contraception.   Primacy of conscience is an important church teaching that all must follow in moral decisions.

The hierarchy must make the connection between discrimination against women in the church and violence, and abuse and inequality toward  women in the world.

Like these courageous women we are faithful Catholics leading the church to become more just and live Jesus’ example of Gospel equality.  

 

Why are you being ordained as deacons, priests and bishops? What does this mean?

Jesus called women and men to be disciples. (Luke 8:1-3) Jesus did not ordain anyone. 

The Risen Christ called Mary of Magdala to be the apostle to the apostles. She was the first to proclaim the central message of Christianity, the Resurrection.  

The Vatican (hierarchy) should follow Jesus’€  example of Gospel equality and the early church€’s tradition of women in liturgical leadership as deacons, priests and bishops.  

Background:

For 1200 years women were ordained (Gary Macy,  The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination, Dorothy Irvin’s archaeological evidence etc.).  In the early centuries of Christianity, ordination was the process and the ceremony by which one moved to any new ministry (ordo) in the community. By this definition, women were in fact ordained into several ministries. A radical change in the definition of ordination during the eleventh and twelfth centuries not only removed women from the ordained ministry, but also attempted to eradicate any memory of women’s ordination in the past.   €  However, the triumph of a new definition of ordination as the bestowal of power, particularly the power to confect the Eucharist, so thoroughly dominated western thought and practice by the thirteenth century that the earlier concept of ordination was almost completely erased.  References to the ordination of women exist in papal, episcopal, and theological documents of the time, and the rites for these ordinations have survived.

Gary Macy, The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination)  

The Vatican and Google have created a virtual tour of catacombs including two frescoes in St. Priscilla’s catacomb that provide evidence of ancient women deacons and priests in first centuries of church  history.   One fresco depicts a woman deacon in the center vested in a dalmatic, her arms raised in the orans position for public worship.  In the same scene there is a bishop being ordained  a  priest by a bishop seated in a chair. She is vested in an alb, chasuble and amice, and holding a gospel scroll.  The third woman in the painting is wearing the same robe as the bishop on the left and is sitting in the same type of chair.  In another fresco in the Catacombs of Priscilla, women are conducting a Eucharistic banquet. This evidence portrays women in liturgical roles and vestments.

Why are you doing this, what are your goals?

The real issue is that Roman Catholic Women Priests are visible reminders that women are equal images of God. We are healing centuries of misogyny.

The Vatican (hierarchy) cannot continue to discriminate against women and blame God for it.

Roman Catholic Women Priests are a holy shakeup€ which millions of Catholics support.

Roman Catholic Women Priests lead inclusive, enthusiastic, egalitarian communities where all are welcome to receive sacraments.  

See also: http://www.womenpriests.org/traditio/deac_ovr.asp

Our website is www.arcwp.org

The Upper Room’s website is:  http://www.inclusivecatholiccommunity-nycr.org

On the March for Child Victims Act


Dear Friends of the Child Victims Act

Thank you to all the brave survivors and advocates who joined us on Sunday to take part in the “Walk for the Window” across the Brooklyn Bridge and our rally on the Manhattan side at Pace University.

They carried signs and banners that proclaimed their support for our law to eliminate the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse crimes and provide a civil window so that adult survivors can get justice and help expose predators that have been hidden by institutions that don’t want to take accountability for their actions.

With New York State ranking at the very bottom of all states in America for how it treats victims of childhood sexual abuse, this is the year to change that abysmal status.

My sincere thanks to all those who continue to speak out on behalf of survivors and future generations of children. Your voices and strong support gives me real hope that the Legislature will, at long last, act to bring justice to survivors in 2016 and help protect future generations of children.

Sincerely, Assemblywoman Margaret Markey

MarkeyM@assembly.state.ny.us