By Michael Hill
These three men survived priest sex abuse. They’ve heard two other popes apologize. Now Pope Francis.
“I beg your forgiveness for the sins of omission on the part of church leaders,” he said.
Leaders these three say who hid or harbored the abusers.
Mark Crawford is the New Jersey director of SNAP — the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. He says of his abuser, “Actually he’s still a priest today and he was allowed to retire, lives in New Jersey, works for the state. Never convicted and that’s what I’m talking about, these secrets are still well kept.”
“They have to help the victims of child abuse instead of spending millions and millions of dollars on the best lobbyists and lawyers,” said Fred Marigliano.
“I think it’s a good step forward. As we all know this is the third pope who has apologized for this scandal and I think it’s time for action,” Stephen Marlowe said.
The trio want cardinals and bishops to out and oust abusers.
“Until the bishops follow the pope’s lead and put the truth out there and hold these men accountable and do the right thing then little has changed,” Crawford said.
Father John Bambrick is a member of Catholic Whistleblowers.
“I expect something long-lasting. My biggest expectation is that bishops will be held accountable, that they will no longer be medieval renaissance monarchs but rather will be held accountable for their bad deeds,” he said.
Survivors say all that they seek doesn’t just come from the Catholic Church but from state lawmakers as well.
Sen. Joseph Vitale of Woodbridge says he will re-introduce his bill to end the two-year statute of limitations on filing civil suits for sexual abuse of children. Right now, victims have two years to sue from the day they realize the abuse caused them damage.
Vitale calls it “absurdly low in a civil action.” He says it’s the “morally right thing to do. New Jersey has one of the worst limitations in the nation. Let the victims have their say in court.”
But, the New Jersey Catholic Conference of Bishops says the bill would open the floodgates to claims so faded by time that they would be impossible to defend.
But Crawford of SNAP says lawmakers must act.
“They can choose to protect the children of New Jersey or protect the institutions that have hidden and harbored these men who have harmed our children. … It’s time they make the right decision,” he said.
If nothing else, the pope’s comments put a big spotlight once again on the issue of sex abuse and the Catholic Church hiding and harboring abusers.