Although some may say that suspending the Statutes of Limitations has nothing to do with religion, the reality is that the Catholic Church has been unfairly targeted by certain lawyers who see deep pockets and by interest groups who have their own agendas to pursue.
Statutes of limitations are a matter of fundamental fairness as expressed below:
The United States Model Penal Code (Sec. 1.06 Comment, 1985)
- “First, and foremost, is the desirability that prosecutions be based upon reasonably fresh evidence. With the passage of time memories fade, witnesses die or leave the area, and physical evidence becomes more difficult to obtain, identify, or preserve. In short, the possibility of erroneous conviction is minimized when prosecution is prompt.
- “Second, if the actor refrains from further criminal activity, the likelihood increases that he has reformed, diminishing the necessity for imposition of criminal sanctions. If he has repeated his criminal behavior, he can be prosecuted for recent offenses committed within the period of limitations. Hence, the necessity of protecting society against the perpetrator of a particular offense becomes less compelling as the years pass.
- “Third, after a protracted period the retributive impulse which may have existed in the community is likely to yield to a sense of compassion aroused by the prosecution for an offense long forgotten.
- “Fourth, it is desirable to reduce the possibility of blackmail based on a threat to prosecute or to disclose evidence to enforcement officials.
- “Finally, statutes of limitations promote repose by giving security and stability to human affairs.”
It is our belief that achieving a financial settlement does not protect children or bring healing to a victim. When the party sued is a religious or charitable institution, it drains that institution of funds given by individuals for the works of religion or charity.
An excellent article is Suing the Church by Most Reverend Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.