Diocese of Orange Bishop Kevin Vann has joined fellow California Catholic Bishops in asking Catholic voters to contact their elected representatives to "stand firm against Senate Bill 131.
As Bishop Vann puts it, "This poorly written legislation does not advance efforts to protect children and exposes (the Catholic) Church (and other not-for-profit organizations to unlimited liability."
SB 131 reopens the statute of limitations on sexual abuse claims against private employers. It was voted down by the State Assembly Appropriations Committee on August 14, but placed back for "reconsideration" by chairperson Mike Gatto (D-LA).
The California Bishops Conference contends that t he bill singles out institutions like the Catholic Church and does not extend any added protection to the 90 percent of children who attend public school.
The letter that was distributed to parishioners all over Orange County this past Sunday states:
"Dioceses throughout California have worked to atone for past mistakes and have implemented robust procedures to ensure children are as safe as we can make them. SB 131 does little to help advance this critical work. The changes within the proposed bill will only affect private employers such as churches, youth leagues, the YMCA, foster homes and private schools."
Over the past several years I've taught and coached in both public and parochial venues. Only parochial schools and AYSO have required me to take "safe haven" training. (You can't even play St. Nicholas at my local parish without receiving safe haven certification.)
The Church is not against against protection for children not does it deny responsibility.
What it wants is fair legislation.
Catholic voters can find more information on the bill at www.catholic.org.