Shared from the 12/9/2018 The Providence Journal eEdition


Pedophilia victims deserve justice

In a quarter-page advertisement in this newspaper on Nov. 29, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence encouraged alleged priest pedophilia victims to come forward. Those ongoing scandals underscore widespread disgust for historically unpunished, unspeakable crimes against children. Adult survivors of rectory or home seductions — sometimes with parents nearby, unaware of the horrors their children suffered — deserve justice, and courts need laws to dispense it.

Warwick Attorney Carl DeLuca estimates about 450 victims sought his help: his office alone settled at least 65 civil cases against the Diocese of Providence.

With blackmail used to bury dark secrets, victims are warned of grave harm and told no one will believe them (as is too often the case). By the time survivors reach adulthood and clear recall, the limit for civil relief often has expired.

Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin came from Pennsylvania, hotbed of an immense, ignored sex scandal. Grand jury reports estimate 300 priests participated in sexual crimes against more than 1,000 boys and girls. Charges include beatings, forced oral/anal sex, and the rape of a young girl later forced to abort.

As auxiliary bishop, and later as bishop, Tobin was surrounded by coverups and settlements during that scandal. He offers no explanation about what he knew, or did, to stop violence against Pennsylvania’s children, unbelievably claiming it was not his responsibility.

Tobin does speak, however, and with ruthless cruelty, against anyone questioning his attacks on LGBTQ Catholics, progressive women, and lawmakers defending the Constitution. He bullies personally or through emissaries: some Catholic politicians fear parochial punishment for themselves or their families.

A 2018 Rhode Island bill providing extensions of civil statutes of limitations for sexual assault crimes died in committee thanks in large measure to menacing lobbying by diocesan pawns. Some Catholic lawmakers privately fear undue pressure to vote for dogma over the Constitution. (When running for office, candidates of every creed should announce any intentions to favor faith above the law so constituents can vote accordingly.)

Tobin suggests support for a bill applying only to future cases — an unacceptable get-out-of-jail-free pass for unidentified priests who participated in past heinous abuse of children, from a bishop required to discipline them and protect his flock.

The statute of limitations bill will be resubmitted in 2019. Sponsor Carol McEntee — sister of a pedophilia survivor — seeks House Speaker Nicholas Mattiello’s support. Though wounded by his removal as parish reader (punishment for his laudable vote for same-sex marriage), Mattiello can set an example as a defender of civil law, required by his oath, and not as an unquestioning Catholic.

I am proof there is life beyond defiance of diocesan bullying. Bishops must be held to Internal Revenue Service lobbying limitations and lawmakers must declare if they represent their faith or the constituents who elect them. Voters can then choose whether to be governed by lackeys or leaders; by Cathedral Square or the State House.

—Mary Ann Sorrentino (, a monthly contributor, writes from Cranston, Hillsboro Beach, Florida, and, in summer, from Italy.

See this article in the e-Edition Here