Monday, February 13, 2006

Fashionable Anti-Catholicism Continues

Catholic News Agency has the story.

The details:
In a continuing battle against what many of the state’s faithful call an unfair bias against Catholics, the Archdiocese of Denver has uncovered a previously unseen, but sordid list of sexual abuses by many of Colorado’s public school teachers.

The Archdiocese has lifted the lid on some 85 Colorado Department of Education reports of sexual impropriety among teachers since 1997. Reportedly, the state had revoked or denied teaching licenses, all for reasons involving sexual misconduct with minors. But critics charge, the punishment ended there.

According to a report in Denver’s Rocky Mountain News, the list revealed teachers “who prey on grade-schoolers, plying them with love notes…Teachers who download pornography on their desktop computers while students sit before them…Teachers who encourage students to meet them surreptitiously after school, on out-of-town trips, and who give them marijuana or alcohol in exchange for sex.”

Recently, all three of Colorado’s bishops blasted proposed state legislation which seeks to eliminate or modify statutes of limitation allowing sexual abuse victims to wait up to 40 years before filing suits against Catholic and other private institutions in the state.

The problem, they say, is that the bills would unequally punish the Catholic Church while public school teachers and coaches accused of abuse would--because of state sovereignty laws--be all but exempt.

In a letter, read last week to all parishioners in the Archdiocese, Denver’s Archbishop Charles Chaput said that every one of the proposed pieces of legislation “ignores the serious problem of sexual abuse in public schools and other public institutions, and focuses instead on religious and private organizations.”

“In other words,” he said, “some Colorado legislators seem determined to be harsh when it comes to Catholic and other private institutions, and much softer when it comes to their own public institutions, including public schools. And it will be families, including Catholic families, who suffer.”

The bill’s sponsors--led by state Senator Joan Fitz-Gerald argue that there is no anti-Catholic intent in the bills, but even the state’s secular newspapers and talk radio hosts question that assessment.
First, Brahamns of Boston propose stripping priests of their legal right to maintain the confidentiality of their penitents--in violation of their right to freedom of religion. Now, mile-high maurauders would allow alleged victims of sexual abuse to sue the Church--and only the Church--before currently mandated limits.

Victims deserve justice--regardless of who the perpertrators are. If Colorado lawmakers want to clear the road of legal obstructions for these victims, let them do so: Scratch the laws, period. Don't legally single out the Catholic Church and then say that you're fighting for victims. It just ain't so.

Political and legal cheap-shooting of the Catholic Church used to be the province of the Nineteenth century No-Nothings. Suddenly, this ugly trend experiences a rennaisance in modern American political life. Sad. Unsurprising, but sad, nonetheless.

Because, ultimately, injustice to the Catholic Church does not bring justice to victims of sexual abuse. Just ask the victims of those Colorado public school teachers.