News Release: Catholic Conference Urges Senate Passage of Key Sexual Abuse Prevention Legislation

Retroactive Civil Legislation Remains a Critical Concern

Five smiling children laying in the grass, their heads touching, looking up at the camera

March 13, 2018

(Lansing)—Michigan Catholic Conference, the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state, tonight is calling on the Michigan Senate to pass components of a legislative package that seek to address child sexual abuse in society.

“The abuse of children, especially sexual abuse, is a stain on our nation’s collective soul. It is heartbreaking and disgusting, yet regrettably, it is present in every facet of society: families, schools, civic organizations, correctional facilities for juveniles, and even churches. Within this reality, and in the midst of an understandably sensitive environment, good public policy must be made as it affects citizens of this state both now and into the future.

“In order to address the scourge of sexual abuse in our society, Michigan Catholic Conference encourages the Michigan Senate to pass Senate Bills 871, 873, 874, 878, 879 and 880. These measures, which would prospectively expand the criminal statute of limitations, expand the pool of mandatory reporters, enhance penalties against repeat abusers, and lengthen the sentences for those who deal in the heinous practice of child pornography, will help to create safe environments while protecting children today and years to come.

“In recent days, several prominent organizations that represent businesses, local governments, civic organizations, public schools, and institutions of higher education have urged the Michigan Senate to evaluate in a more deliberative manner legislation that would retroactively reopen the civil statute of limitations. Michigan Catholic Conference opposes retroactively amending the civil statute of limitations. As publicly stated this week by leading academic and legal scholars, both in Michigan and from outside the state, civil retroactivity would put institutions and employers in the impossible position of defending claims that are decades old. Civil retroactivity would hold the people and taxpayers who support today’s churches, schools, civic organizations, and local and state government financially accountable for allegations from decades past.

“Over the past fifteen years, the Catholic Church has talked with survivors, committed to protecting children by creating safe environments, required background checks and fingerprints of both volunteers and employees, and required ongoing awareness and education about abuse and protecting children. Our unwavering support for healing assistance and counseling will continue regardless of when a survivor’s claim is confirmed.

“With this experience, and in order to ensure strong protections for our children, Michigan Catholic Conference urges the Michigan Senate to send over to the House of Representatives Senate Bills 871, 873, 874, 878, 879, and 880.”

Michigan Catholic Conference is the official public policy voice of the Catholic Church in this state.

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