The Freedom From Religion Foundation condemns the Catholic Church targeting Pennsylvania legislators who have shown support for stronger child sex-abuse laws.
Of 195 members of the Pennsylvania House, 180 recently voted in favor of a bill designed to prevent those accused of sexually abusing children from claiming legal immunity due to the existing statute of limitations. Church leaders have singled out specific legislators and publicly humiliated them for backing the bill.
The archdiocese recently printed church bulletins and had its priests call out legislators by name from the pulpit in order to stir up opposition against the bill. As the bill moves forward to the Senate Judiciary Committee, the message is clear: oppose this child sex-abuse bill or face the wrath of the church.
"It's outrageous that the church would go to such lengths to kill this bill," says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "The Catholic Church has systematically protected sexual predators from legal authorities for decades while claiming to have children's interests at heart. If the church were really concerned about victims of sexual abuse, it would be doing everything in its power to support this bill."
Under the proposed House Bill 1947, victims would have until they are 50 years old, rather than 30, to seek legal redress. Considering the severe psychological trauma that can result from childhood sexual assault and the extreme power that the Catholic Church holds over many communities, this legislation is desperately needed.
"This is not some free ticket to target churches for money," notes FFRF Legislative Analyst Sam Grover. "These victims still have the burden of proof and still must find and submit evidence. The longer they wait, the more difficult that becomes. This new bill simply gives them the chance to try."