Dear Editor:

The sexual abuse and exploitation of a child is a scourge on society. Whether it happened in 1919 or 2019, it doesn’t matter, the abuse survivor is forever scarred. We all have a responsibility, an obligation, to stop that right now.

Moreover, we have an obligation and a moral duty to hold institutions accountable that aided and abetted the abuse of children. I am pained to write this, but the Catholic Church is the prime example of one of those institutions.

I am a Christian and try to live by the principles set forth in the Gospel. However, I can’t abide the actions of the Catholic Church. I represent individual survivors of childhood Catholic priest abuse and am calling the Church out on their crimes. They stonewall and obstruct justice. They protect priest predators whom they know violated innocent children. This has to stop. The gospel of Matthew tells us “The Kingdom of God suffers violence and the violent take it by force.” (Matthew 11:12). It’s time to act.

That is why I have taken the steps I have to protect children. I am supporting legislation in Florida that opens a window for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to come forward and seek justice in civil court. But more than that, this movement to protect children is nationwide. We have a moral obligation to get off the sidelines and protect our children. I am doing everything in my power across the country to protect children and I am now calling on you to do the same. If you are a survivor of childhood sexual abuse at the hands of a Catholic priest or a Boy Scout leader, call me and I will listen. I want to help you and your family heal. Now is the time to do the right thing. Now is the time to act. Stand up and take back your power!

Sincerely,

Dyril Flanagan

St. Petersburg

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