January 18, 2006

A Path to Justice

The New York Times

Published: January 18, 2006
The Rev. Thomas Gumbleton, an auxiliary bishop of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit, urged lawmakers in Ohio last week to support a bill that would put his church at great risk of embarrassment, shame and financial hardship. The bill would relax the statute of limitations on sexual abuse, granting a one-year window for lawsuits by those whose right to a day in court lapsed long ago. In Ohio and other states, advocates for the victims of abusive priests have supported this path to justice for long-hidden crimes.

The bishop spoke in no official capacity and, among church leaders, he stood alone. Other bishops have lobbied strenuously against such laws, fearing ruinous litigation. They are right to be afraid; a one-year window in California led to about 800 lawsuits, including 500 in Los Angeles. The bills could easily reach hundreds of millions of dollars.

But Bishop Gumbleton's stance is right and just. He spoke not as an administrator but as a priest and, more compellingly, as a victim of abuse himself. Breaking a silence of 60 years, he revealed that he had been groped as a 15-year-old seminarian by a priest who is now dead.

Posted by kshaw at January 18, 2006 08:37 AM