January 25, 2004
January 4, 2004
Your thoughts on the priest sexual abuse scandal
The priest sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church has been unfolding for 3 months now, not just locally, but also nationally and overseas. We'd like to hear your thoughts on what steps the church should take to address the problem. What can rank-and-file Catholics do? How can church officials regain the trust of the faithful?
The current scandals are exactly what the Catholic Church needs to re-evaluate its position the congregation. Much of what has now come to the fore has been murmured about for decades. Now we have a chance for real reform. Bring on Vatican III and make a place for women and married men on the altar.
The Church should convene another Vatican council. The Church needs to recognize the changes in modern society, such as women's rights, celibacy of the clergy, birth control etc. The present canon laws are completely out of line with the 21st century. This is unlikely to happen, however, until a new pope is installed.
Catholics need to exert the only power they have- to stop giving money to the church until the church changes their policy to allow priests to marry. They won't get more than a tiny handful of normal healthy men until that happens. And until that happens, the church can never again be trusted on any matters of morality- they've all demonstrated their moral bankruptcy. Not one higher-up ever did the right thing. And I truly believe Law still doesn't fully understand what the outrage is- I'd bet my life he's angrier at the Globe than he is at the perpetrators and his own hypocrisy. And who would replace him? What difference will it make if nothing else changes?
I believe that criminal charges should be brought against Cardinal Law and the Catholic Church for their knowledge of these heinous acts that were being committed by these priests. The way I see it, if you are aware of a crime and do not do anything to stop of or report it to the authorities (murder, rape, assult, theft) then you are part of a conspiracy and you should go down just as hard as the criminals who committed the crime. Cardinal Law should step down now if he cares enough to salvage any remaining respect from the general public. The longer he stays on, the more embarassment he brings on the Catholic church that has supported him for so many years.
The laity must understand both the empowerment they have received in baptism as members of the Body of Chtist, and the responsibilities they have to work actively for the betterment of the church, which flow from that empowerment. A good place to start is the Vatican II document on the lay apostolate. This document contains information and guidance on the mission of the laity, their responsibilities for the church, and how they should relate with the heirarchy. Groups are forming in many parishes and groups of parishes to work on the issues which have been brought to light by the crisis. Some will work on the role of the laity; some will examine the role of priests; and others still will reach out to the victims of the abuse. I would encourage all lay Catholics to take an active role, trusting in their faith and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. This is not a time to sit back and hope others will address the problem. For, "every cell in the body must play an active role, if the body is to be healed from within." To the heirarchy we must say, "Be not afraid!" Why did you try to hide these problems for so long? The truth will be painful but it will also be cleansing. Full disclosure is the only way forward. We can understand that individuals can be flawed. If some have betrayed the grace of their ordination, that does not mean grace is no longer possible for all. But we must change the flawed structure and culture that allowed these abuses to remain hidden for so long, away from the light of truth.
Andrew Griswold, Cambridge
Rank-and-file Catholics should stop being Catholics, and find or start a faith that actually represents their views. Particularly, they should find a faith that is not so destructively obsessed with human sexuality in all forms - this is what attracts sexually disturbed men to the priesthood in the first place. How many American catholics under the age of 70 really believe that pre-marital sex and birth control are wrong? That masturbation is a sin? How many really believe that women are inferior to men? Why do they want their children to be taught these things? Catholics should take control of their church, and make it theirs. Or they should leave. But to go on mouthing words they do not believe under new leadership will solve nothing.
dan, brookline, mass.
The debate over whether or not Cardinal Law should resign is wildly misplaced. Doesn't common sense, along with our criminal justice system, dictate that willfully endangering the welfare of a child (or, in this case, hundreds of children) is a felony? Law's conduct, as demonstrated through numerous Globe Spotlight articles as well as the Cardinal's own contrition, so clearly placed the children of parishoners in the path of horrendous harm. We should demand that Law be arrested, charged and convicted, not simply forced to step down.
What is the direction we want the church to take? To only clean the pedophilia mess or to make significant changes (Vatican III) and address the issues of married priest, women ordination, complete overhaul of their view of sexuality, openeness and thruthfullness in their behavior, empowerment of the laity, less control by Rome? Huge issues that according to the present ways can only be disscused by Rome. Those of us who want drastic changes do not have much hope as the church stands today.
Raoul Ajamil, Woburn MA
The church needs to step back & address the situation instead of "praying for our brothers". I believe if the Catholic Church acknowledges its mistakes then the door to heal will now be open otherwise if the Catholic Church refuses to see a problem I believe the Catholic Church could very well crumble. The evil done by the accused priests should be talked about & discussed. Sweeping this little problem under the rug will not do. Pedophiles exist in our society I do not condemn the whole church for some sick Priests, but I do condemn a Church that enables.
Jeanne McCloskey, Hanover,MA
I don't understand how the principal conspirators are not being indicted for this type of activity. If this occured in the military, the police or any other organization there would be arrests and indictments by this point for cover up. I believe Cardinal Law is getting a free pass because of the collar around his neck. He should be brought up on charges and indicted if the evidence supports a conspiracy to cover up, it is as simple as that.