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Statement from Andy Rivas, Executive Director of the California Catholic Conference of Bishops, on Governor Newsom Signing AB 218


“Today Governor Newsom signed Assembly Bill 218 (Gonzalez, D-San Diego), a bill that opens a window for three years to allow decades-old lawsuits to be brought against public and private institutions.

“The Catholic Church has confronted this issue of child sexual abuse for more than two decades now. It is a legacy of shame for all of us in the Church, and we are aware that nothing can undo the violence done to victim-survivors or restore the innocence and trust that was taken from them.

“Out of our past failures, the Church has made important reforms and put in place effective systems for the protection of children. As a result, new cases of abuse are rare today in the Church in California. In addition, dioceses throughout the state have devoted hundreds of millions of dollars to providing therapy and other services to those abused by members of the Church.

“The Church cooperated with then-Governor Gray Davis and the legislature during the opening of the statute of limitations in 2003. The Church paid more than $1.2 billion to settle claims filed by hundreds of victim-survivors. Since then, dioceses in the state continue to provide pastoral care and financial support for victim-survivors, no matter when that abuse occurred.

“Because we understand that many victim-survivors are reluctant to come to the Church for assistance and that many will never take their claims to court, on September 16, six dioceses in the state began participating in a new private independent program to provide compensation to any person who has been sexually abused as a minor by a diocesan priest, no matter when that abuse occurred. We encourage those who have been abused by diocesan priests in the dioceses of Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino, San Diego, Fresno and Sacramento, to seek assistance at

“Sadly, the author chose to deny any remedy to the sexual abuse victims in State institutions and hide the perpetrators employed by the State.  Unfortunately, the Governor did not insist with the author and legislative leadership that all sexual abuse victims deserve to be heard and healed.

“Ultimately, our hope is that all victim-survivors of childhood sexual abuse in all institutional settings will be able to have their pain and suffering addressed and resolved and so our prayers are that AB 218 will be a step forward in that direction. All the dioceses and bishops in California remain committed to this and we remain committed to working so that abuse is prevented and children are protected in our parishes, schools and ministries.”