Philip F. Lawler
Phil is the editor of, which brings you daily news headlines from a Catholic perspective. He is the author of The Faithful Departed, a history of the Church in Boston and the scandal of the abuse of children by priests.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008


[Interesting article about the abuse case which echoes many of the themes of The Faithful Departed.]

Why the Church Should Not Oppose Extending Statutes of Limitation

June 2008 By Charles Molineaux

The mission of the Catholic Church is evangelization -- the bringing of the Good News to mankind, the bringing of mankind to Christ. The word "evangelization" has been reclaimed from the tele­vangelists, but to put it in the vernacular, we might say that it is about public relations, about putting out a message. The Church has had a continuing evangelization disaster, a public-relations disaster, on its hands since 2002, when revelations surrounding its internal abuse-and-cover- up scandal first came to light, partly as a result of an inversion of episcopal priorities: placing concern for property and the institutional Church ahead of concern for souls. The present public opposition, by most dioceses, to extending statutes of limitation continues the same mindset and exposes the institutional Church to the charge of hypocrisy.

Statutes of Limitation: 'Equity Aids the Vigilant'

A statute of limitation is a legislative act that limits the time within which a legal action must be brought. Statutes of limitation are, in short, pragmatic and practical devices to preclude stale legal claims. In a sense, the idea of statutes of limitation embodies the maxim (and maxims are often merely slogans, not necessarily embodying legal principles, much less natural law): Vigilan­tibus et non dormientibus aequitas subvenit -- that is, the law aids those who are vigilant, not those who sleep on their rights.

To read the rest from New Oxford Review- go here.

Charles Molineaux, K.M., is an attorney, international arbitrator, and freelance writer living in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. His articles and poetry have appeared in The Wall Street Journal, The Georgetown Academy, the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly, and The Catholic Lawyer. This article is based on a talk given at the October 2007 meeting of the Society of Catholic Social Scientists in New York. The opinions expressed are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent those of organizations of which he is a member.

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