NYS Bishops Statement on Passage of Child Victims Act

As you perhaps have read in the news, New York State lawmakers have passed The Child Victims Act, a legislation that not only extends the statute of limitations for victims to bring charges against those who sexually abused them as a minor, but also gives a one-year window of opportunity for all survivors, no matter how old, to bring decade old cases before the civil court. The bishops of New York State have issued a letter, welcoming the passage of the Child Victims Act in the sincere hope that the avenues of either litigation or compensation might help bring healing to those abused no matter where or in what institution this crime was committed. We, as a church, are committed to pray for the healing of all victims and for the continued accountability of any system, public or private, where abusers were protected or sheltered from the consequences of their crime. We are also committed to mandate participation in awareness programs that can assist parents, children, educators and ministers to become aware of signs of potential abuse situations - Fr. Tony

 

January 28, 2019

We pray that the passage of the Child Victims Act brings some measure of healing to all survivors by offering them a path of recourse and reconciliation. The legislation now recognizes that child sexual abuse is an evil not just limited to one institution, but a tragic societal ill that must be addressed in every place where it exists. 

Sadly, we in the Church know all too well the devastating toll of abuse on survivors, their families, and the extended community. Every Catholic diocese in New York has taken important steps to support survivors of child sexual abuse, including the implementation of reconciliation and compensation programs. We are proud that these pioneering programs have not only helped well more than a thousand survivors of clergy abuse in New York, but have also become a model for how to help survivors in other states and in other institutions.

Now, we hope that this same type of survivor-centered approach, that puts the emphasis on healing, is available to all survivors, regardless of when the abuse occurred, or who their abuser was—whether it was a priest, a coach, a teacher, a doctor, or, as is all too common, a family member. We have long called for strengthening the Child Victims Act and will continue to advocate for the elimination of the criminal statute of limitations, compensations programs for those who prefer it to litigation, and mandatory safe environment training for anyone who works with children, as we have implemented in the eight dioceses throughout New York State. 

We thank the brave survivors who have told their stories of abuse in every sector of society. Their witness has moved us all. We renew our commitment to combatting the monstrous crime of childhood sexual abuse and helping all survivors find recourse and reconciliation as they heal. 

Timothy Cardinal Dolan
Archbishop of New York

Most Rev. Edward B. Scharfenberger
Bishop of Albany

Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio
Bishop of Brooklyn

Most Rev. Richard J. Malone
Bishop of Buffalo

Most Rev. Terry R. LaValley
Bishop of Ogdensburg

Most Rev. Salvatore R. Matano
Bishop of Rochester

Most Rev. John O. Barres
Bishop of Rockville Centre

Most Rev. Robert J. Cunningham
Bishop of Syracuse

And the Auxiliary and Retired Bishops of NYS