At age five, 1954, "the Bishop" (Chicago's Cardinal Stritch) stood over me and said, I had to "stop babbling" about what the priest did to me. It took me 40 years to talk about it again. Today, I babble.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Church to Iraq Vets: Overseas in 2003? Too bad, dismiss the cases, bishops are above Federal law

By Kay Ebeling

Servicemenbers who were at war during the one-year window that allowed lawsuits against the Catholic Church in 2003 should not be allowed to proceed with lawsuits filed in 2008 regarding child molestation by priests, even though Federal law allows benefits such as delayed lawsuits for active duty personnel, attorneys for the Catholic Church argued in Los Angeles Superior Court Tuesday.

Both Cardinal Roger Mahony of Los Angeles and Bishop Robert Brom of San Diego want several civil cases regarding molestation thrown out, because the plaintiffs were overseas serving their country during the one-year window that opened to file civil lawsuits in 2003.

One plaintiff was and still is in Iraq, another adult victim of a peophile priest from Tuesday's hearing was in Guam and other farflung places on active duty during the one-year window in 2003, and did not file his suit until 20 months after leaving the military.

Catholic Church heirarchy try to bystep Federal law.

Renamed the Servicemen's Relief Act in 2003, this benefit for veterans has been a mainstay of American culture, almost unchanged since 1940. Now the Church wants to refuse veterans their right to file lawsuits, under California 340.1, now that they have returned from active duty. Americans go to great lengths to ensure men and women who serve their country do not lose their rights, especially when serving overseas during wartime.

Apparently Church hierarchy are above this law, like they are above the law that requires reporting of sex crimes against children to law enforcement.

In 2008 these plaintiffs filed civil suits, applicable to the one-year window in 2003, using their rights under the SCRA.

Now Mahony Brom and their teams of attorneys want the cases dismissed. Church heirarchy apparently feel it is more important to hold on to every million dollars they have, than to go along with the spirit and beliefs of nearly every other person in this country.

They are so out of touch.

American laws to provide for military personnel cross all political lines. Republicans AND Democrats stop fighting with each other when it comes to the issue of providing every benefit and right, and generously, to every person who serves our country, especially now in time of war.

That is, everyone agrees except Catholic Church heierarchy.

In court Tuesday attorneys for both the San Diego and Los Angeles Archdioceses fought hard and then harder to get the judge to dismiss cases filed by returning military personnel who missed the 2003 opportunity. The two attorneys argued on about 45 minutes, in spite of looks of aghast astonishment on the face of nearly everyone else in the courtroom, including the judge.

Their argument?

These servicemen waited too long. They should have filed their cases anyway, even if they were in the middle of fighting a war in 2003. They should have filed as soon as they stepped out of the plane from Iraq, no consideration at all for their circumstances.

I think even the most ardent Catholic will be astonished to find out these two Southern California bishops are willing to go against the spirit of this very country, and deny Iraq and Afghanistan veterans the right to delayed filing of lawsuits, because they were fighting a war for this country during the open time period.

The Catholic heirarchy will do anything to hold onto another two or three million dollars. The arguments in court today truly reveal the concerns of these church leaders. They care about their money and their assets, not their parishioners, or this country.

So why do we continue to afford these criminals extra respect and special dispensation?

The American Catholic bishops need to be prosecuted before they get any more praise.

Oh yes, Re Motion for Protective Order: After all that hooplah and hundreds of pages of motions back and forth, Judge Emilie Elias today waved away - with a slight wave of the hand - the motion to keep all evidence about Michael Baker in the Luis C case secret, like just one more irritating mosquito.

Judge Elias said to Donald Steier, "It's premature. You have to wait until the end of the case."

And of course he argued with her.

A more detailed post on Tuesday's hearing will follow shortly.

Meanwhile study up with me: On 19 December, 2003, President Bush has signed the “Servicemembers Civil Relief Act,” new legislation to help ease the economic and legal burdens on military personnel called to active duty status in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Authored by Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Chris Smith, the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act updates and strengthens the previous Soldiers & Sailors Civil Relief Act of 1940 (SSCRA). For complete details, see Servicemembers Civil Relief Act, Simplified, and Servicemembers Civil Relief Act in Detail.

- Kay Ebeling


QuantaCura01 said...

Kay, this is a great post. has their been any word on the appeal of the diocese of Fresno and the Santillian brothers?

city of angels lady said...

SCOOP: Just went to the Fresno court docket to check on status of the appeal, as I try to do every week or so, and found this, will put it in a post soon, but you are reading it here first: Reporter Candyce Culy transcripts for the date of 3/30/09 were found on the "Appeals Department" transcript shelf not filed stamped, date/clock stamped, nor was the signature dated to indicate time or date they were received. Therefore the transcripts will be filed the date they were found, on 09/18/09. ag.