|A Matter of Justice
By Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
July 16, 2008
Where is the world is John A. Di Mondi coming from?
Perhaps various denominational leaders would have us believe that the sexual abuse problems affecting their churches today is an American problem, a result of Woodstock or the permissiveness of the people living in Massachusetts.
Some churchmen have actually said as much nationally and internationally since 2002.
However, inflammatory rhetoric is just what is not needed if justice and compassion are the goals both of societal and religious institutions.
Why, one should ask, when the rape of children is addressed, is the pursuit of justice labeled a "witch hunt" or do children simply have no civil rights? The latter really appears to be Di Mondi's thinking.
The sexual abuse of a child by a minister, priest or any religious figure is the most heinous and reprehensible of crimes and it is called incest for good reason when it occurs in what is often described as the Family of God, the Church.
The victims of childhood sexual abuse in Delaware, and that includes victims of clergymen, are not "alleged" victims but very real victims whose pain and suffering has not been assuaged by the passage of time.
It is noteworthy to mention that among the over 600 individuals who came forward when California opened a one year civil window for abuse victims, there were only five cases that were found not credible, not substantiated, five.
Actually, the previously short statutes of limitations on the sexual abuse of children in Delaware (two years criminally and civilly) were completely arbitrary limits, with neither rhyme nor reason, unless one considers the obvious protection of molesters, abusers, pedophiles and rapists to be the goal. The truth is there never was any legal basis for the previous two year statute of limitation on the sexual abuse of a child in Delaware.
The pandemic we now describe as Trafficking in Women and children for purposes of sexual exploitation is considered a horrendous violation of ones individual human and civil rights. Because crimes of this nature are on the federal level, like murder they have no statutes of limitation.
Why is it that so many otherwise good people tend to minimize the damage done to children here at home in the United States but not in the larger world community, especially in third world countries?
Pope Benedict XVI in his recent visit to the United States spoke at every venue along the way of his "deep shame" over the clergy sex-abuse scandal, decrying the "enormous pain" that individuals and communities have suffered from "gravely immoral behavior" by priests. He vowed to "do what is possible so this cannot happen again in the future."
With good reason, one wonders how a John A. Di Mondi would react to his wife being raped by their minister or his daughter being abused by her pediatrician as was the case with hundreds of children abused by Connecticut Doctor George Reardon.
I love my church, and together with Pope Benedict XVI I am ashamed, deeply ashamed of what has been done to children in God's name. I fully expect my church leadership to initiate actions that more faithfully follow the pope's words and their own.
Justice like charity begins at home and Jesus never said it was dependent on a price tag.
Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
25-E Highland Blvd.
New Castle, Delaware
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