It’s no secret that child sexual abuse is a widespread and longstanding problem in the Catholic Church. What isn’t widely known, however, is just how far the Church has gone in opposing legal reforms that would give victims access to courts. Until now, that is.
The background on reforms
In recent years, many states have extended deadlines for adult survivors to bring civil lawsuits against institutions that harbored the abusers – institutions like the Catholic Church. New York passed the Child Victims Act in February, extending the statute of limitations and granting adult survivors a limited window of time to bring claims that would otherwise be barred.
What the report reveals
The Catholic Church has an obvious financial interest in preventing – or at least limiting – these reforms in order to stave off a flood of lawsuits. And a recent report sheds light on just how much the Church has spent on lobbying efforts against those reforms.
In the last seven years, the Church spent $10.6 million in the Northeast alone. Of that amount, $2.9 million was spent on lobbying efforts against the Child Victims Act in New York. The Church ultimately dropped its opposition in January once the bill incorporated broader language to ensure that it would apply to public and private institutions alike.
Officially, the Church maintains its support for survivors of childhood sexual abuse and its commitment to putting them first. Yet, as the saying goes, the Church has yet to fully “put its money where its mouth is.”