Chaput urges opposition to Pa. bill that would relax statute of limitations for clergy sex abuse accusers

Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Gov. Tom Wolf are pressing for the change.

Mark Abrams
October 01, 2018 - 7:08 am

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PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — The Philadelphia Archdiocese is going on the offensive against legislation now before the Pennsylvania Senate that would open a two-year window allowing adult victims of clergy sexual abuse, which occurred when they were children, to sue.

A letter from Archbishop Charles Chaput read at all Masses in the archdiocese this past weekend urged the faithful to oppose the measure, which he says would cause bankruptcies for dioceses and put parishes and ministries at risk.

The Pennsylvania Senate is weighing the bill, passed last month by the state House, that would allow people alleging abuse to sue those who abused them as childen, including the diocese or archdiocese thatwhich employed them.

Although Chaput did not himself address the issue directly during the homily of his Sunday Mass at the Cathedral Basilica, his letter endorses a plan put forth by the state's bishops to set up a compensation fund for abuse victims without the need for victims to pursue court action to claim a share of it.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro and Gov. Tom Wolf are pressing for the statute of limitations change, one of the reforms recommended by a statewide grand jury which investigated clergy sex abuse in the Catholic church in Pennsylvania.

Senate Republican leaders who control the chamber say they have problems with the House bill, but conceded after a closed-door meeting last week in the Capitol that senators are divided on the issue, primarily because of constitutional issues it raises.