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Bp. Charles Chaput on suing the Catholic Church

April 21, 2006

If you read only one essay on the injustice being perpetrated against the Catholic Church by certain states rolling back their statutes of limitations in cases of alleged clergy sexual abuse, read Bp. Charles Chaput, “Suing the Church” in First Things (May 2006) 13-14. It’s devastating. And he’s not even a lawyer.

I have long argued that the statutes of limitations in canonical criminal cases (see 1983 CIC 1362-1363) were too short, but I have never supported changing them to enable prosecution of past canonical crimes; too many innocent people are required to defend themselves under circumstances where their ability to do so is seriously weakened.

By the way, those who manage to hide their crimes until a statute of limitations has run do not escape punishment. They merely transfer it to a realm wherein mercy has no power to mitigate justice.

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