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Act, which would provide a window of time for victims whose cases were denied a court hearing in the past by New York’s outdated statutes of limitation to bring their cases forward.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.
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.