Painful Truths About Molestation

Baltimore Jewish Times publisher Andrew A. Buerger writes March 21, 2008:

Some Catholic archdioceses even filed for bankruptcy when facing similar lawsuits.

Despite having had some employees ruin children’s lives, the Catholic Church’s lobbying arm has waged an ugly campaign to prevent the Maryland legislature from extending a child sex abuse victim’s right to sue past the age of 25. Many victims are afraid to come forward before then. But some in the Church seem more concerned with saving assets than souls. Money was saved in this amoral victory, but it’s not over; more bankruptcies are to come –– beyond the already moral bankruptcy.

The Jewish community isn’t much better. We remain in denial. Blame the Baltimore Jewish Times, blame the victims; do nothing about legislation to help our kids. In the end, we will be destroying Torah.

Many victims are understandably upset with the slow pace of change. Some are even upset with us for not more aggressively going after alleged perpetrators.

However, like any respected news organization, we follow a code missing from many rants on the blogosphere. We are working hard to ferret out the truth. We won’t run a story without solid testimony from credible sources.

Yet, we know many are afraid to come forward because, as we’ve seen with the Catholic Church, there is a public price to pay.

We are working on several stories regarding alleged perpetrators, but we will not print them without a thorough investigation. In that regard, we’re no different from the Boston Globe covering the priests’ sexual abuse story for the last eight years.

We live by the same journalistic code. We won’t rush. We won’t be intimidated by allegedly pious leaders. And we won’t stop printing the truth.

Sean Caine, Director of Communications, Archdiocese of Baltimore, responds April 11:

Statements made by Publisher Andrew A. Buerger in his March 21 column “Painful Truths” were highly offensive to Catholics. Our obvious differences of opinion on this critically important issue do not justify objectionable name-calling or the Archdiocese was never called to respond.

We would have shared the following about the latest attempt to change Maryland law by out-of-state trial lawyers who have grown rich suing the Catholic Church. The legislation:

• Would have done nothing to help children. It contained no child protection measures and no provisions to toughen criminal penalties;

• Was unfair because it would have forced churches of today to pay millions of dollars for incidents that are alleged to have occurred decades ago. It would have changed our legal system to retroactively permit claims regardless of how long ago they are alleged to have occurred;

• Would have financially devastated the Archdiocese, our parishes and ministries. Payments in connection with child sexual abuse claims against the Catholic Church already total nearly $1.8 billion, with trial lawyers taking some 40 percent ($720 million). Six dioceses have filed for bankruptcy, and countless good works of the Church have been hurt or altogether abandoned;

• And would have treated the Catholic Church differently than public organizations. Government agencies, including public schools, are afforded many more protections against civil suits than private institutions. The proposed legislation would not have altered the existing special time deadlines and damages caps that apply only to government entities.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore has long been committed to protecting children and to assisting those harmed through abuse. The Church has apologized to victims and has dedicated millions to counseling and other assistance for victims and their families, and to child protection efforts, including mandatory background checks for employees and volunteers.

The Church has a responsibility to inform Catholics about legislation that would unfairly and unnecessarily devastate the enormous good work done today by its priests, employees and volunteers. To call the Church “morally bankrupt” and to refer to this education effort as an “an ugly campaign” without asking the Archdiocese about its concerns was irresponsible, misleading and offensive.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been noted in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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