Running on Empty: NY Times Editorial Now Calls for the Catholic Church to be Bankrupted

Andrew Rosenthal

Andrew Rosenthal, Editorial Page Editor, New York Times

They are at it again.

The Grey Lady just published another editorial on Sunday on its favorite topic: sex abuse in the Catholic Church from decades ago. This time the Times praises the state of Hawaii for passing a law to lift the statute of limitations for two years to file stale sex abuse claims and then lobbies Governor Andrew Cuomo in New York to do the same in an attempt to bankrupt the Catholic Church in New York.

The sex abuse story has been an obsession at the Times for a decade now. But in those ten years, the Church has radically reformed its polices requiring prompt reporting and annual audits while contemporaneous abuse claims have now fallen to near zero; abuse victims have already filed scores of often questionable lawsuits collecting billions in judgments; half of the accused priests have already died; a vast industry of wealthy contingency lawyers and professional victim's groups have emerged who heavily advertise for still more victims; and, indeed several dioceses have already been forced to file for bankruptcy protection amid the flood of claims.

So the simple, if sometimes unpopular, truth is that the problem of sex abuse in the Catholic Church has already been solved.

Finding a new angle

But since the Times isn't really as much concerned with the sexual abuse of children as it is with finding an issue with which to bully the Catholic Church into changing its doctrines with respect to sex and gender, the Times has got to keep the sex abuse issue alive somehow – anyhow – or else it loses its rhetorical cudgel to attack the Church.

Thus in its latest editorial the Times now pushes for a proposed law in New York that would abolish decades of established law and lift the statute of limitations for abuse claims for a set period – a so-called "window statue" – so that contingency lawyers could now bring 50-, 60-year, or even older abuse claims in order to bankrupt the Catholic Church in New York. And, indeed, in left-leaning states where window statutes have already been enacted, such as California, Oregon and Delaware, they have directly led to dioceses being forced to file for bankruptcy.

Selective facts

In promoting these statutes, however, the Times never mentions the rank unfairness of forcing defendants to defend decades-old claims after witnesses have died, memories have faded, and evidence has been lost. Indeed, permitting the filing of lawsuits which, because of the passage of time, results in the defendants being unable to effectively defend themselves amounts to nothing short of extortion which is why statutes of limitation exist in the first place.

Nor does the Times ever mention in its editorial that these statutes never apply to public schools where sex abuse is estimated to have occurred at a rate more than 100 times that of the Catholic Church. And that these window statues don't apply to the Times' beloved government schools is perfect evidence itself that the Times real agenda here is not the protection of children but simply an assault upon the Catholic Church.

The Constitution wisely prohibits ex post facto criminal laws and these reckless window statutes with respect to abuse in civil law are simply unprecedented in scope modern American legal history. Imagine the howls of protest from the Times if legislatures were to suddenly lift the statutes of limitation on defamation permitting claimants to sue the Times over matters it published 50 or 60 years ago!

Coming clean

In its editorial, the Times even admits that its real target in all of this is the Catholic Church, decrying of the Hawaii legislation that "[t]he law's leading opponent was the Roman Catholic Church, which has been working hard to defeat statute of limitations reform across the country." The Times then bemoans that the Church stopped a recent proposed window statue from passage in Pennsylvania. As always, it is not really about sex abuse but about the Times hating on the Catholic Church.

As the story of sex abuse in the Catholic Church fades into the past, look for more editorials like this from the Times promoting the passage of window statues as it desperately struggles to keep this old story alive and as it seeks any means at its disposal to destroy its archnemesis: the Catholic Church.


  1. Publion says:

    Statute of Limitations 'reform' is a grossly misleading term. This 'reform' is actually nothing less than a regression to the days of spectral evidence, where the court must accept the word of the accuser whose claimed suffering is only visible to that accuser. Thus the Salem Witch Trials of 1692, still trying to deploy Medieval legal praxis even as Europe was beginning to formulate far more rational jurisprudence in that matter (i.e., evidence reviewable by third-party observers must be presented and its credibility judged). In fact, what stopped the Salem trials was precisely the colony's Governor prudently sending to London for instructions and being told in no uncertain terms that the Middle Ages were – in the matter of jurisprudence – over.

    • Aline Frybarger says:

      ., evidence reviewable by third-party observers must be presented and its credibility judged). That is what the Statute of Limitations reform is trying to do.  

    • Richard A says:

      Doesn't current law in all fifty states already provide that "evidence reviewable by third-party observers must be presented and its credibility judged". In Michigan we have pre-trial hearings to do exactly this. If you live in a state that doesn't, your problem isn't that the statute of limitations are set too short.

  2. Ted says:

    When in the past has the Times ever pressed for lifting the statue of limitations to punish one organization?
    Enough said.

  3. Delaware Catholic says:

    When the window legislation was passed in Delaware, the sponsor said alleged victims would be required to prove their abuse, which, we were told, would be very difficult. What really happened, in the very first case to go to trial, was that a jury saw a grown man performing in the courtroom. His "evidence" was that there was no way other priests at the rectory where his abuse allegedly occurred could forget him being led upstairs by this priest, despite the fact it occurred more than 40 years ago. The jury awarded the man $3 million.
    This spooked the Diocese of Wilmington, which faced some 150 lawsuits. Instead of going to court and forcing the alleged victims to prove their cases, the diocese declared bankruptcy and negotiated a settlement with all of them. Some priests have maintained their innocence, but they never got a chance to defend themselves. Many others are long dead.
    The Delaware legislation did include public schools, but in order to sue them, the school districts had to agree to waive their sovereign immunity. And in one district, two lawsuits were settled confidentially, which is not allowed for the church. Nice system, huh?

  4. John M says:

    Sorry to tell you, but the abuse is bound to continue.  Why?  Well, one overlooked piece of data is the fact that loneliness leads many priests to act out.  There is a quantitative study proving it; namely, The Bingo Report by Louise Haggett, in 2005.  The bishops know that loneliness is a contributing factor among others leading to sexual abuse, alcoholism, financial misdeeds, but they have chosen to ignore it.  You can trace the loneliness back to mandatory celibacy, kept in place by the clerical culture, which keeps the bishops in control.  Until this issue is addressed, there will be no real reform and you can expect to see an ongoing saga of acting out.

    • Dan says:

      Nonsense, "loneliness" does not create pedophiles. I read that study and there is absolutely NO causal connection between the abuse of childern and loneliness. The only connection to loneliness that was made is that it was a frequent reason for resigning as a priest. Also the organization that did the study has an anti-celebacy agenda. Furthermore the study itself was poorly done in fact is was a farce.

    • Publion says:

      If celibacy and some consequent 'loneliness' were the cause or a primary cause, then we wouldn't encounter sexual-abuse by married clergy in other denominations, and yet both the Jewish and Baptist polities experience instances of their clergy abusing the faithful.
      Ideally, a priest's spiritual relationship with God should be strong enough to override the loneliness that comes with the calling. I am hoping that there is more emphasis on spiritual formation in the seminaries now. And also more training in priests' relying on candid and supportive spiritual direction and mutual support of each other.

  5. Desdemona says:

    John M:  Has the study been repeated, published in a respected scientific journal or otherwise received some kind of professional approval?  Of course, the Kinsey Report which was published was found to have been based on non-existent or false claims.  The existence of a "report" doesn't automatically prove the credibility of the author or its conclusions.

  6. JeannieGuzman says:

    No, I'm sorry Mr. Pierre, but I don't think the problem has been solved.  It has been white-washed!  Until all monsignors,  bishops, archbishops and cardinals need to defend themselves and their actions in the coverups of Pedophile Priests, the problem hasn't been solved at all!   The Church conducted her "Papal inquiries" into the sexual abuse of minors by questioning them, often without their parents and swearing them to secrecy, with the threats of excommunication.  When was this done?  Probably in the Middle Ages, or the Dark Ages, but it was done within the last 50-60 years, both in the USA and abroad.  Right now, Cardinal Brady's actions in such an Inquisition are being questioned, along with his ability to continue reigning as the highest Primate in Ireland.  The Church can act like she still rules the Dark Ages, but those molested, raped and sodomized by Pedophile Priests can't, if the Statute of Limitations has expired.  That just called "Church Justice!"

    • Ralph says:

      If you think the probelm continues today, provide evidence.
      The Brady issue you mention was from 1975.
      Otherwise your statements are a slander against the good and often great men who serve the church.
      Get a life.

  7. Ray Ryan says:

    The Rosenthals, Sultzbergers, et. al. have a demonstrated mental illness regarding the church their forebears started. Pray they are able to cure their issues. Perhaps were they to pay closer heed to their "business" , they will improve thier record of destroying 80% of the Times value in only five years. The market is indeed listening to their incessant cant.  God bless us all.

  8. Gabe says:

    So, the sex abuse scandal is over in the Catholic church?  Why is there an ongoing trial in Pennsylvania, and why is the archbishop in Kansas City being charged with negligence NOW???

    • Publion says:

      The trial in Philadelphia deals with matters going back almost 20 years and they certainly predate the intensive period of reform initiated in 2002. That's one of the oddities of the Philadelphia trial – it's as if the prosecution had no 'current' case so they brought a 'historical' case.
      I am not familiar with the specifics of the Kansas City trial, although it is clear that if they brought a 'negligence' charge – and I think at the Misdemeanor rather than the Felony level – then they have brought a much lesser charge than the prosecutors in Philadelphia have lodged in their case. I am not sure whether the instance which occasions the Kansas City charges is a 'current' one (i..e it happened in the past 10 years or less) or a 'historical' one (stretching back beyond 2002 or so when the new policies were set up).

    • Bruce in Kansas says:

      The case against Bishop Finn in KC is based on his not following the zero tolerance process. He took the advice of a law enforcement officer that pictures on a priests computer were not porn and reassigned the priest, who subsequently attempted suicide, underwent a psych eval., and has been relieved. There is no evdience of any sexual contact with anyone in the case beyond pictures to my knowledge.

  9. Frank says:

    Hmmm, where there is smoke there is fire. I wonder how many interns and page boys at the NYT have been subjected to sexual advances by their own bosses and co-workers over the past fifty years…. it gives one pause to wonder.

  10. Blake Helgoth says:

    The real, dark truth – that even the Times doesn’t want to come out – is that these are not cases of pedophilia, but acts with post-pubescent boys. It is a gay problem on the Catholic clergy.

  11. Grace says:

    Jeannie the definition of a Pedophile is one who sexually attacks someone of the opposite sex under the age of 13.  In recent years that definition has been changed for political correctness.  As you know the cases are predominately involving teenage boys.  Thesse priests were homosexuals.  So the New York Times is actually anti-gays and should be called on it!  How fun it would be to see them squirm. 

  12. David Carlon says:

    Who reads the boring dinsosaur of print media the NY Times? 


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