Too Much Church in the State

Justice Amy Coney Barrett.

By Maureen Dowd

During her Supreme Court confirmation hearings, Amy Coney Barrett tried to reassure Democrats who were leery of her role as a “handmaid” in a Christian group called “People of Praise.”

The group has a male-dominated hierarchy and a rigid view of sexuality reflecting conservative gender norms and rejecting openly gay men and women. Men, the group’s decision makers, “headed” their wives.

Justice Barrett said then that she would not impose her personal beliefs on the country. “Judges can’t just wake up one day and say ‘I have an agenda — I like guns, I hate guns, I like abortion, I hate abortion’ — and walk in like a royal queen and impose their will on the world,” she said amicably. “It’s not the law of Amy. It’s the law of the American people.”

Yet that’s what seems to be coming. Like a royal queen, she will impose her will on the world. It will be the law of Amy. And Sam. And Clarence. And Neil. And Brett.

It’s outrageous that five or six people in lifelong unaccountable jobs are about to impose their personal views on the rest of the country. While they will certainly provide the legal casuistry for their opinion, let’s not be played for fools: The Supreme Court’s impending repeal of Roe will be owed to more than judicial argumentation. There are prior worldviews at work in this upheaval.

As a Catholic whose father lived through the Irish Catholics “need not apply” era, I’m happy to see Catholics do well in the world. There is an astonishing preponderance of Catholics on the Supreme Court — six out of the nine justices, and a seventh, Neil Gorsuch, was raised as a Catholic and went to the same Jesuit boys’ high school in a Maryland suburb that Brett Kavanaugh and my nephews did, Georgetown Prep.

My father was furious that Catholic presidential candidates Al Smith and J.F.K. had to defend themselves against scurrilous charges that, if they got to the White House, they would take their orders from the pope.

One must tread carefully here. A Catholic signed on to the Roe v. Wade decision and another was in the court majority that upheld it in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. Justice Sonia Sotomayor, a Catholic, has expressed support for Roe, and Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative Catholic, may be working for a compromise decision that can uphold Roe.

Still, this Catholic feels an intense disquiet that Catholic doctrine may be shaping (or misshaping) the freedom and the future of millions of women, and men. There is a corona of religious fervor around the court, a churchly ethos that threatens to turn our whole country upside down.

I come from a family that hews to the Catholic dictates on abortion, and I respect the views of my relatives. But it’s hard for me to watch the church trying to control women’s sexuality after a shocking number of its own priests sexually assaulted children and teenagers for decades, and got recycled into other parishes, as the church covered up the whole scandal. It is also hard to see the church couch its anti-abortion position in the context of caring for women when it continues to keep women in subservient roles in the church.

Religiosity is a subject some Catholics on the court have been more open about in recent years.

Last year, at Thomas Aquinas College in California, Justice Samuel Alito fretted that there was growing cultural hostility toward Christianity and Catholicism. “There is a real movement to suppress the expression of anything that opposes the secular orthodoxy,” he said. Precisely which belief or practice of his religion does he feel he has been denied?

President Biden is a Catholic who is uncomfortable with the issue of abortion despite his support for Roe. Still, when Barrett was a law professor at Notre Dame, a group she belonged to unanimously denounced the university’s decision to honor Biden even though he didn’t support the church’s position on abortion.

We have no one in the public arena like Mario Cuomo, who respected the multiplicity of values in an open society and had the guts to wade into the lion’s den at Notre Dame in 1984.

“The Catholic who holds political office in a pluralistic democracy — who is elected to serve Jews and Muslims, atheists and Protestants, as well as Catholics — bears special responsibility,” Cuomo said. “He or she undertakes to help create conditions under which all can live with a maximum of dignity and with a reasonable degree of freedom; where everyone who chooses may hold beliefs different from specifically Catholic ones — sometimes contradictory to them; where the laws protect people’s right to divorce, to use birth control and even to choose abortion.”

The explosive nature of Alito’s draft opinion on Roe has brought to the fore how radical the majority on the court is, willing to make women fit with their zealous worldview — a view most Americans reject. It has also shown how radical Republicans are; although after pushing for this result for decades, because it made a good political weapon, they are now pretending it’s no big deal. We will all have to live with the catastrophic results of their zealotry.

Complete Article HERE!

Catholic bishops ask US Supreme Court to review California’s sex abuse law

FILE UNDER: Insulated, monolithic, callous, tone deaf church power structure

by Emily Hoeven

Could California find itself in another conflict with the U.S. Supreme Court?

Nine California Catholic dioceses and archdioceses have asked the nation’s highest court to review their case against a 2019 law signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, which created a three-year window for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to file legal claims against alleged perpetrators at school, church or elsewhere, regardless of when the alleged abuse occurred. The law also allowed defendants to be sued for a new offense: “cover up” activity.

In the April 15 petition, which was first reported last week by the Catholic News Agency, lawyers for the Catholic bishops assert the law is unconstitutional because California already gave victims a chance to sue in 2002 — when it opened a one-year portal for sex abuse survivors to file claims with no time limit attached — and because it retroactively adds new liabilities.

  • The lawyers wrote: “Review is critical now, before the Catholic Church in the largest State in the union is forced to litigate hundreds or thousands of cases seeking potentially billions of dollars in retroactive punitive damages under an unconstitutional double-revival regime.”
  • They added that their clients have already paid more than $1.2 billion to resolve claims filed during the original one-year window, and “to finance these settlements, they expended significant resources, sold vast swaths of Church property, and in some cases exhausted or relinquished insurance coverage for past and future abuse claims.”
  • The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests slammed the bishops’ petition: “The 2002 window lasted one year, barely enough time for victims to find their courage or their voices. Many only heard about the window or found their courage too late. This new three-year window is allowing survivors in a huge state the time to speak out, get help, and come forward. We believe it is that bravery that is scaring California’s Catholic bishops.”

Newsom’s office declined to comment: “We have nothing to add at this time,” Daniel Lopez, Newsom’s deputy communications director, told me in an email.

But the petition, which came came less than a month before Politico published a draft U.S. Supreme Court majority opinion showing justices are poised to overturn the federal constitutional right to an abortion, could spark the latest standoff between California and the high court.

In other reproductive justice news: Attorney General Rob Bonta announced Monday that Kings County District Attorney Keith Fagundes dropped criminal charges against Adora Perez, whom he had previously charged with manslaughter after she delivered a stillborn baby while high on methamphetamine. “California law is clear: We do not criminalize people for the loss of a pregnancy,” Bonta said.

Complete Article HERE!

I have been Catholic all my life. A new Milwaukee Archdiocese policy on transgender people has driven me from my church.

Archbishop Jerome Edward Listecki

By Anne Curley

As a cradle Catholic whose values were shaped by 12 years of Catholic education and 60-plus years of Mass attendance, I feel great gratitude for the countless caring sisters, priests and Catholic laypeople who have guided and inspired me through much of my life. I’ve been proud to be associated with the good done by Catholic schools, hospitals and charitable organizations throughout the world.

So it’s with real sadness that I’ve joined the throng who have left the church.

The recently released policy of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee on how to treat transgender individuals has made it impossible for me, in good conscience, to call myself a Catholic.

I didn’t come to this decision lightly. When friends would ask, “How can you be a Catholic despite (choose one or more) the clergy sex abuse scandal, the ban on women priests, the treatment of homosexuality as a disorder, the rules on birth control … I had three well-honed responses:

“A 2,000-year-old, global institution doesn’t change quickly,” “Show me a major human institution that isn’t a mixed bag of strengths and corruption,” and “It’s the good, grace-filled people that keep me hanging in there — not the policies.”

Still, I can’t say I relished the mental gymnastics required to justify why I continued to be a practicing Catholic.

The justifications ran out when I read “Catechesis and policy on questions concerning gender theory,” a stunningly harsh new directive from the archdiocese covering Catholic parishes, organizations and institutions.

In no uncertain terms, it spells out how all employees, volunteers and vendors at these institutions are to treat transgender individuals. Among other dictates, it includes, “Recognize only a person’s biological sex,” “No person may designate a ‘preferred pronoun’ in speech or in writing” and “All persons are to follow the dress code or uniform that accords with their biological sex.”

The document begins by saying, “’The truth will set you free.’ Christ’s words to his disciples call Christians in every age to embrace the truth of who we are as children of God, for only in embracing this truth can we be set free.”

I believe that truth is embedded in each of us — that God implanted a unique identity that is ours alone to experience, express and put to good use during our time on Earth.  The fact that society is becoming more accepting of differences in our identities — race, sexual orientation and gender expression being prime examples — strikes me as part of God’s unfolding plan to enable each of us to achieve our full potential.

I am not an expert on it, but I think it’s safe to say the subject of gender identity is complex, nuanced and not a good candidate for rigid rules. What I know for sure is that my Catholic education taught me Jesus identified with those whom the rule-makers rejected. I learned that he reserved his harshest criticism for religious leaders who piled heavy burdens on others. Thanks to my Catholic formation, I know that to be Christian means to uplift the dignity of others, especially those who most need uplifting.

So how can I be a committed Christian and go along with a policy that, instead of emphasizing compassionate care, institutionalizes the oppression of people because of who they are?

What would Jesus do?

Complete Article HERE!

Justice is coming, slowly, in clergy sex abuse cases

Pope Francis waves from a window during the Regina Caeli prayer in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican on May 8.

The road toward justice for the victims of clergy sex abuse has been long, tortuous and littered with legal minefields. But increasingly in the past few years, it has led to milestones involving accountability for the Catholic Church, and restitution for individuals preyed upon as children. That it has taken two decades in many cases is maddening, but breakthroughs even at this late date are critically important.

In April, a Catholic diocese in the Philadelphia suburbs of southern New Jersey agreed to pay nearly $88 million to settle claims by several hundred people, many of them now elderly, who say they were abused as children. For many of the 300 or so plaintiffs in the Diocese of Camden, it will mean payouts in the range of $300,000, with the possibility of additional amounts stemming from separate lawsuits against insurance companies, parishes and schools.

The Camden settlement was among the biggest in the nation, larger even than one in Boston, where the first revelations surfaced 20 years ago of systematic church involvement in covering up clergy sex abuse. It is also partly the legacy of a blockbuster 2018 grand jury report in Pennsylvania that documented allegations against more than 300 priests accused of abusing more than 1,000 children over decades.

The effect of that report was to overcome powerful interests, including the Catholic Church, private schools and insurance companies, that had lobbied successfully in state legislatures to thwart restitution and accountability by impeding sex abuse cases against minors stretching back for decades. In particular, they blocked the establishment of so-called look-back windows that would enable lawsuits to be filed for a finite period well after statutes of limitation had expired — a key reform given that many victims of childhood abuse take years to come to grips with the traumas they have suffered. That dam of obstruction was broken after the Pennsylvania report, including by legislation enacted in New York, New Jersey and more than a dozen other states.

Relaxed statutes of limitations have meant scores of bankruptcy filings by dioceses as well as a tsunami of lawsuits by victims. The downside is upheaval in the Catholic Church, an institution that remains a touchstone for millions of Americans. The upside is, if not a sense of closure, at least an acknowledgment of the damage done, and trauma inflicted, across U.S. communities. Prayers for the victims were inadequate; they deserved, and in many cases have now received, legal redress of their pain and grievances.

This story is not over, nor should it be. Last year, Pope Francis ordered changes in the church’s own penal code to allow clerics who leverage power imbalances to abuse not only children but also adults to be expelled from the priesthood. However, the Vatican has continued to resist uniform reporting of child abuse to civil authorities, which it says could put clergy at risk in some countries. In both the United States and overseas, major new reports have continued to document the scale and scope of abuse over decades. That important work must continue.

Complete Article HERE!

Here’s What You Should Do in Case of Abuse by the Clergy

Clergy abuse can lead to emotional scars and post-traumatic disorders for life. Here’s what to do when faced with such a problem.

If you know someone who has been the victim of clergy abuse, or if you experienced this unacceptable violation yourself, know that there are now support groups that help you tell your story.

The legal system is now going after abusive priests, unlike the scenario even a few years back. The church has mandated that all sexual abuse allegations be reported to law enforcement agencies. It is now a lot easier for victims to be heard and get their abusers to be held accountable.

Read on to know how you can deal with abuse by a clergy member.

Report the Incident

The first thing anyone should do after being a victim of clergy abuse is to report it to a law enforcement agency. They also need to ask for medical care, which includes getting access to resources for mental health issues as well.

Many people are frightened to report such an incident, especially because it can be really painful. But if you understand exactly what clergy abuse means, you cannot allow it to go unreported. You need to enable law enforcement authorities to act against the priest, no matter how bad you feel about it.

Gathering the strength to come forward and report the incident is commendable. However, such cases involve going through a lot of legal steps which might further overwhelm the victim.

But once the victim is able to report the abuse, it becomes significantly easier to deal with it in the coming days. All across the US, there are lawyers who can help you through the process. Look up California Clergy Sex Abuse Attorney online for stellar legal representation in clergy abuse cases if you are living on the West Coast.

Be Aware of the Statute of Limitations

You will undoubtedly be relieved at finally being able to tell your story and reporting it gives you the time you need to properly build up a case against the abuser and the Catholic Church.

But keep in mind that you have to file the lawsuit against the abuser within a legal timeframe called the statute of limitations.

If you do not file within the time limit, your case will be tossed out on a technicality. When the abuse took place and the location are a few factors that affect the statute of limitations. Some states in the USA have altered the statute for clergy abuse cases so that the victims can seek justice more easily.

Why Should You Hire a Lawyer?

Anyone who has been a victim of clergy sexual abuse is entitled to be compensated. Hiring a lawyer increases the probability of receiving the proper compensation after following the proper case filing processes.

This is important as many Catholic Church dioceses have filed for bankruptcy when charged for compensation or they have appointed legal counsel to protect their position. A lawyer will be able to combat such issues and make sure your claim for compensation stays alive.

What Types of Compensation Can You Expect?

When filing for a clergy abuse lawsuit, the main aim is to recover the highest compensation recoverable. Victims can use this compensation to pay for recovery programs such as mental health services or other medical expenditures.

This can be extra beneficial for those victims who require ongoing treatment. It will help you to know the different types of compensation that can be recovered, so read on.

  • Mental Healthcare

This relates to any expenses the victim may have incurred to visit professionals to address mental health issues, buying any prescribed medication, or any therapy that is required to treat the trauma that was inflicted.

  • Medical Care

You can be compensated for whatever expenses you’ve incurred to treat the abuse. This includes visits to the hospital, doctor’s bills, tests, and other OTC costs.

  • Suffering

You can still be suffering years after the actual abuse took place, and you can be compensated for it in a non-economic way.

What Are Your Rights?

The issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has been going on for decades and it involves people of all ages. The Church is now finally taking action to address these issues and is working with legal authorities to take measures against the accused.

So now the victims have a stronger platform to raise their voices and hold the abuser accountable for whatever harm has been inflicted upon them. The best way to do this is to file a lawsuit claiming compensation for clergy abuse.

Signs That Your Clergy Member Has Inappropriate Intentions

It’s best to be aware of the signs and pre-empt sexual abuse by a clergy member. There are a few ways you can tell in advance if your interaction with the priest is about to get inappropriate. These include:

  1. If the priest is giving you more time and attention than he is giving others.
  2. The priest uses flattery during the session and it starts to make you uncomfortable.
  3. The clergy member offers you personal gifts.
  4. You get invited by the priest to intimate social occasions.
  5. During the counseling sessions, you end up discussing their issues more than your own.
  6. He tries to touch you in an inappropriate way that makes you uncomfortable and confuses you.

Concluding Thoughts

If you have been sexually abused by a priest or know a victim, speak out and hold the abuser accountable. The legal system is now more organized, allowing you to get your justice a lot more easily.

So be aware of your rights and hire a good clergy sex abuse lawyer so that what you had to go through does not go unpunished. Remember to be resilient and not give up till you have achieved the proper compensation.

Complete Article HERE!