Monday, August 26, 2013

Senate bill fails to provide justice for all victims

By Bishop Gerald Barnes
Diocese of San Bernardino

As fellow citizens we respect and abide by the laws that govern our communities, whether at the local, state or federal level. Likewise, we have an expectation that the law will be applied equally to the people in its execution of justice. Equality under the law does not always occur, of course, and in those instances we exercise our right to raise objection to those who make the law.

We have arrived at such a moment. A bill has been proposed in the California Legislature that would suspend the statute of limitations on civil sexual abuse lawsuits for one year. It would apply only to private organizations, including churches, youth organizations, recreational leagues and private schools and universities. It would not apply to public institutions, including public schools and universities. That means that a person who, as a child or teenager, experienced the terrible wound of sexual abuse at the hands of someone in a public institution would be denied the opportunity to benefit from this law.

The issue of sexual abuse of children has been a painful one for our Church. We have acknowledged our failure and sin, we have made restitution to victims and we have fundamentally changed our policies for responding to abuse and educating our people about it. The protection of children from sexual abuse is a ministry of our diocese and, indeed, our Church.

Because of this we know that abuse is not a problem that is confined to the Catholic Church or to only private organizations, for that matter. We know that it occurs across the entire spectrum of society, including public institutions. That is why this proposed law, SB 131, is terribly unjust in its execution of justice for all victims of sexual abuse.

At this moment, I am calling on all Catholics of the Diocese of San Bernardino to reach out to the members of the State Assembly and State Senate who represent them and urge a ‘no’ vote on SB 131. Our faith calls us to participate in the political process when issues arise that impact the moral teaching of our Church. This, in my view, is a moral issue, an issue of justice for all victims.

I invite you to visit the California Catholic Conference web site at to find out more about this issue and learn how you can contact your representatives.

Let us pray for our state elected officials and for all those whom they seek to protect through the laws they make.

May God bless you and yours.

Proyecto de ley no ofrece justicia a todas las víctimas

Por el Obispo Gerald Barnes
Diócesis de San Bernardino

Hermanos y Hermanas en Cristo,

Como conciudadanos, respetamos y obedecemos las leyes que gobiernan nuestras comunidades, ya sea en el ámbito local, estatal o federal. De igual forma, tenemos la expectativa de que la ley se aplicará por igual a todos en su imposición de la justicia. La igualdad no siempre existe en la aplicación de la ley, por supuesto, y en esas instancias ejercemos nuestro derecho a expresar nuestra protesta a quienes promulgan la ley.

Ha llegado dicho momento. En la Legislatura de California se ha presentado un proyecto de ley que suspendería por un año la ley de prescripción en casos de demandas civiles por abuso sexual. Esta ley aplicaría solamente a organizaciones privadas, incluyendo iglesias, organizaciones juveniles, ligas de recreación y escuelas y universidades privadas. La ley no aplicaría a instituciones públicas, incluyendo escuelas y universidades públicas. Eso significa que a una persona que, en la niñez o adolescencia, sufrió el terrible agravio del abuso sexual a manos de alguien en una institución pública se le negaría la oportunidad de beneficiarse de esta ley.

El problema del abuso sexual de niños ha sido algo doloroso para nuestra Iglesia. Hemos reconocido nuestras fallas y nuestro pecado, hemos cumplido con el resarcimiento a las víctimas y hemos cambiando fundamentalmente nuestras políticas para responder al abuso y para educar a nuestra gente al respecto. La protección de niños del abuso sexual es un ministerio de nuestra diócesis, y ciertamente, de nuestra Iglesia.

Debido a esto, sabemos que el abuso no es un problema confinado a la Iglesia Católica o a las organizaciones privadas solamente, si vamos al caso. Sabemos que ocurre en todos los sectores de la sociedad, incluyendo instituciones públicas. Es por eso que este proyecto de ley, SB 131, es terriblemente injusto en su aplicación de la justicia para todas las víctimas de abuso sexual.

En este momento, hago un llamamiento a todos los católicos de la Diócesis de San Bernardino para que hagan llegar sus voces a los miembros de la Asamblea Estatal y el Senado Estatal que los representan y los insten a votar ‘no’ a SB 131. Nuestra fe nos llama a participar en el proceso político cuando surgen cuestiones que afectan la doctrina moral de nuestra Iglesia. Esta, en mi opinión, es una cuestión moral, una cuestión de justicia para todas las víctimas.

Los invito a que visiten el sitio de Internet de la Conferencia Católica de California para mayor información sobre este asunto y cómo pueden comunicarse con sus representantes.

Oremos por nuestros funcionarios estatales electos y por todos aquellos a quienes buscan proteger por medio de las leyes que promulgan.

Que Dios los bendiga a ustedes y a los suyos.

Friday, August 9, 2013

The face of hunger

By John Andrews
Director, Department of Communications

I stepped away from the smiles and handshakes that preceded the grand opening of the Galilee Center in Mecca to get a picture of the building. For years it had been a packing house that held the fruits of so many field workers’ labors. Now it is a place of refuge and sustenance for the poor.

I had to walk up Hammond Road a few hundred yards to get a shot of the new sign. On the way back to the event, as I passed a pickup truck parked at the side of the road, I heard a voice call out to me. “Are they serving food here tomorrow?” The woman behind the wheel was doing her best to be polite but you couldn’t miss the desperation in her eyes. A boy about 10, her son, I presumed, sat in the passenger seat. I didn’t know the answer to her question and I said I would go back to the center and try to find out.

Later, during the grand opening ceremony, there were some wonderful words spoken about how this center came to be, about the inspiring ministry of its founders Gloria Gomez and Claudia Castorena. But what registered most in my consciousness that evening, and drove home why places like the Galilee Center are so important, was my brief exchange with the woman in the truck. As hard as it may be for some of us to acknowledge, the face of the hungry, the one I saw that evening, is the face of Christ.

This has been a point of emphasis for Pope Francis in the early months of his papacy. In the sea of complicated issues that we are attempting to navigate as Catholics, the Holy Father wants us to recognize that we are often looking past the great whale in front of us – poverty, and the hunger that comes with it.

Consider that someone in the world dies of starvation every 3.6 seconds, and a third of the world’s population is considered to be starving. Closer to home, more than a quarter of the total population of Riverside County – where the Galilee Center is located – is considered “food insecure” and nearly 20 percent of children in Riverside County live in poverty.

As the great rock artist and global activist, Bono, once chided his audience after a monologue about the evils of apartheid, “Am I bugging you? Don’t mean to bug you….”