Because of a spate of new sexual abuse lawsuits, California's Supreme Court is considering yet another lifting of the statute of limitations for legal actions taken against Catholic Dioceses, so that victims and attorneys that missed out on the last cash-giveaway can have a second chance.
Speaking on Condition of anonymity, a high-level operative at the California Catholic Conference said that the state's bishops conference is already considering new strategies should the court open the door for a new round of lawsuits. "We have had several new bishops appointed in the last few months, changing the character of the state's episcopal landscape. Our legal team is working with the new prelates to insure a smooth transition and more consistent bankruptcy filings from diocese to diocese. We are also close to finalizing a plan to lease the California Missions to a concession service that will provide interactive historical entertainment, refreshments, souvenirs, rides and site-rental for private events. So even if we are forced to pay more settlements, our revenue outlook is positive."
Wayne Velour of the California Teachers' Association is hopeful that the court will overturn the statute in the interests of justice. "These self-righteous Catholics have not created a safe, welcoming environment in their places of worship for GLBT children and they have done irreparable harm to the communities by continuing to perpetuate their religious myths and halt social progress. It's time to make them pay, and this is a good place to start."
Most Catholics do not want the embarrassment of more lawsuits and one parish is doing something about it. Sister Butch McClenny is the pastor of Our Lady of Continuing Renewal in San Bernardino. Since taking over the parish in 1997, she has been a pioneer in updating pastoral ministry and has the only parish in the United States that forbids priests on its grounds except for Sunday Mass. "When the guest priest arrives each Sunday for Mass, he is met by six of our altar girls and a Eucharistic Minister to chaperone them. They escort him the entire time he is here, never letting him out of their sight. After Mass, he is escorted back to his car. So far, we've had no allegations made against any priests in this parish. It's really win-win for the priest, our parish and the diocese."
The Diocese of Riverside-San Bernardino did not return requests for comment.