Editor’s note: Two bills of great interest to Catholics everywhere, but especially in the state of California, were signed into law this month by Gov. Gavin Newsom. Statements from the California Catholic Conference regarding the signing of Assembly Bill 218 and Senate Bill 24 follow. For more, visit: cacatholic.org.
Assembly Bill 218
Assembly Bill 218 expands the statute of limitations by giving survivors until the age of 40, or five years from discovery of the abuse, to file civil lawsuits. The previous age limit was 26 or within three years of discovery.
STATEMENT FROM THE CALIFORNIA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE
Today (10-13) Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 218 (Gonzalez, D-San Diego), a bill that opens a window for three years to allow decades-old lawsuits to be brought against public and private institutions.
“The Catholic Church has confronted this issue of child sexual abuse for more than two decades now. It is a legacy of shame for all of us in the Church, and we are aware that nothing can undo the violence done to victim-survivors or restore the innocence and trust that was taken from them.
“Out of our past failures, the Church has made important reforms and put in place effective systems for the protection of children. As a result, new cases of abuse are rare today in the Church in California. In addition, dioceses throughout the state have devoted hundreds of millions of dollars to providing therapy and other services to those abused by members of the Church.
“The Church cooperated with then-Governor Gray Davis and the legislature during the opening of the statute of limitations in 2003. The Church paid more than $1.2 billion to settle claims filed by hundreds of victim-survivors. Since then, dioceses in the state continue to provide pastoral care and financial support for victim-survivors, no matter when that abuse occurred.
“Because we understand that many victim-survivors are reluctant to come to the Church for assistance and that many will never take their claims to court, on September 16, six dioceses in the state began participating in a new private independent program to provide compensation to any person who has been sexually abused as a minor by a diocesan priest, no matter when that abuse occurred. We encourage those who have been abused by diocesan priests in the dioceses of Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego, Fresno and Sacramento, to seek assistance at https://www.californiadiocesesicp.com.
“Sadly, the author chose to deny any remedy to the sexual abuse victims in State institutions and hide the perpetrators employed by the State. Unfortunately, the Governor did not insist with the author and legislative leadership that all sexual abuse victims deserve to be heard and healed.
“Ultimately, our hope is that all victim-survivors of childhood sexual abuse in all institutional settings, not simply private employers and public schools, will be able to have their pain and suffering addressed and resolved and so our prayers are that AB 218 will be a step forward in that direction. All the dioceses and bishops in California remain committed to this and we remain committed to the working so that abuse is prevented and children are protected in our parishes, schools and ministries.”
Senate Bill 24
Senate Bill 24 mandates that all public college campuses now allow for taxpayer-funded chemical abortions on public college campuses.
STATEMENT FROM ANDY RIVAS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE CALIFORNIA CATHOLIC CONFERENCE CALIFORNIA REGARDING THE SIGNING OF SENATE BILL 24
“Governor Gavin Newsom has signed SB 24 (Leyva), a bill the California Catholic Conference had urged him to veto. This bill will require all University of California and California State University campus health care clinics to make abortion-by-medication available to students by state paid campus staff; not because such a mandate will advance the welfare of college women and children but rather to promote a political ideology.
“The life and dignity of every person is due respect and protection at every stage and in every condition. The right to life is the first and most fundamental principle of human rights. Human life is sacred. The life of a child in the womb of the mother is both sacred and innocent. This is why both mother and child need our support and encouragement so that their shared dignity and the sacredness of their bond is promoted and protected. Any legislation that defies these basic truths should be rejected.
“College-age women, especially those who face life-changing decisions, such as pregnancy, deserve a safe and supportive environment where they can receive appropriate health care and assistance, including pregnancy counseling and/or options regarding on-going health care, childcare, housing assistance, moral support and adoption.
“SB 24 purposely narrows a woman’s alternatives and, on an issue of moral significance and continuing controversy, puts the state’s prestigious academic institutions in a position of actually promoting, facilitating and potentially funding only abortions. Women and their children deserve better alternatives than abortion-inducing drugs that cause an abortion to occur by initiating a miscarriage during the first 10 weeks of pregnancy. Such a process may result in pain and harmful complications to the patient, including hemorrhaging and/or delivery of fetal remains, perhaps even in a student’s dormitory room or public restroom. A compassionate society should have more to offer women in need than the ability to end the life of their children before they are born.
“His Holiness Pope Francis reminds us ‘[we] are called to care for life in its initial stage; [to] remind everyone by word and deed that life is sacred – at each phase and at every stage – that it is always valuable. There is no human life more sacred than another, just as there is no human life qualitatively more significant than another. The credibility of a health care system is not measured solely by efficiency, but above all by the attention and love given to the person, whose life is always sacred and inviolable.’ (Address to Meeting of the International Federation of Catholic Medical Associations 9/20/13)
“For these reasons, the California Catholic Conference had urged the Governor to VETO SB 24 and why we are frustrated and saddened he chose instead to sign it. With this signature the life and dignity of women and children at our public colleges and universities has been diminished.”