Combating sexual abuse in the Catholic Church

On Behalf of | Dec 17, 2023 | Catholic Church

The statute of limitation for children who were victims of sexual abuse has been repealed by lawmakers in Maryland and other states. Although Florida has yet to join that list, it has helped countless abuse survivors seek closure and retribution.

Racial dynamics at play

Sadly, the way things worked under the statute of limitations for filing a sexual abuse lawsuit against a Catholic priest meant that survivors were often left unseen and without a voice. And when the victim of this abuse was Black, they often faced an even worse situation.

Although the public has become more aware of the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic church, many victims still don’t seem to be noticed at all. This is especially true when they are people of color. This exacerbates an already overlooked issue where clergy members have abused vulnerable people who put their trust in them.

Why it stays hidden

There is a myriad of reasons why victims of sexual abuse keep it a secret for so long. Some people experience strong social pressure to keep it a secret. Others even blame themselves.

In other cases, it’s not always clear who the villains are. Oftentimes, abusers in the clergy are well-loved members of their community. Once their actions are brought to light, it’s often heartbreaking and tears churches apart. This also comes with no shortage of backlash from those who don’t want to accept the truth.

Some abuse survivors cited being haunted by their memories. Even though the abuse happened decades ago, they still remember details, making it clear these incidents had lasting consequences. As these personal stories have come out, it’s been used to build an argument that the statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims should be done away with entirely.