March 24, 2006

Cardinals Scramble To Defeat Abuse Bills

Washington Post

By Caryle Murphy
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, March 24, 2006; Page B01

Roman Catholic Church officials are putting a full-court press on Maryland legislators to reject bills that would extend the time allowed for victims of childhood sex abuse to file lawsuits against abusers and their employers.

Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick of the Washington archdiocese and Cardinal William H. Keeler of the Baltimore archdiocese have gotten involved, expressing opposition to the bills to House Judiciary Committee members directly or through intermediaries. The archdioceses also have hired a prominent Annapolis lobbying firm, Schwartz & Metz, to supplement the efforts of the Maryland Catholic Conference, their regular lobbying arm.

"Almost everyone on the committee has acknowledged to me that the church has called them or called their ministers about the bill, and they are meeting with every member of the committee, including me," said Del. Pauline H. Menes (D-Prince George's), the bills' principal sponsor. ...

Del. Samuel I. Rosenberg (D-Baltimore), a co-sponsor of the bills, said he was contacted by a local rabbi who had received a call from Keeler about the legislation and was relaying the cardinal's concerns. Rosenberg said the rabbi, whom he declined to name, reported that the cardinal was upset that Jewish lawmakers were sponsoring the bills. Rosenberg and Menes are Jewish.

"To make a point of the religion of the sponsor of a bill . . . was beneath contempt," Rosenberg said he told the rabbi.

Posted by kshaw at March 24, 2006 10:16 AM