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?
While I agree that priests should be allowed to marry, I don't feel that it is celibacy which causes these men to become pedophiles, they are sick men who enter the priesthood maybe in hopes of curing their sickness, or maybe in hopes of entering an institution that will condone and foster their illness. In either case, the church needs to be held accountable.
THE BOTTOM LINE ON WHATEVER HAPPENS TO US IN THIS LIFE IS THAT IT IS PRIMARILY A TEST OF OUR FAITH IN OURSELVES AND OUR GOD. IF WE PROFESS TO BE CHRISTIANS ON THE ONE HAND, WE CAN NEVER SAY "HOW CAN THEY HAVE DONE THIS TO ME" ON THE OTHER HAND. IN DOING SO, WE IMMEDATELY PLACE OURSELVES ABOVE OUR CHRISTIAN GOD, THE CRUCIFIED JESUS. AS WELL, WE PLACE OURSELVES ABOVE ALL ELSE, OUR FRIENDS, FAMILY AND NEIGHBORS. BUT WHAT IS MOST DAMAGING, IS THAT WE IMMEDIATELY RENDER OURSELVES INDIVIDUALS OF EXTREMELY LITTLE FAITH. WE MUST REMEMBER THAT NEAR TO JESUS' LAST WORDS WERE "FORGIVE THEM LORD, FOR THEY KNOW NOT WHAT THEY DO". WE ARE TAUGHT THAT JESUS BECAME MAN,SUFFERED AND DIED FOR US, SO THAT WE MAY BECOME MORE LIKE GOD, NOT THAT WE MAY BECOME GODS UNTO OURSELVES. WE ARE ALL IMPERFECT BEINGS IN AN IMPERFECT WORLD, AND I AM AMONG THE FIRST TO SAY THAT I AM ALSO A SINNER; THEREFORE, CAN NOT POINT A FINGER AT ANOTHER. AS UNFORTUNATE AS THIS SITUATION IS IN THE SHORT TERM, CATHOLICS WORLDWIDE SHOULD LOOK BEYOND THIS TO SEE HOW MANY MILLIONS OF CHILDREN WILL BE SAVED FROM EXPLOITATION THROUGH THIS CONCOISNESS RAISING. NOT ONLY CATHOLIC CHILDREN, BUT CHILDREN WORLDWIDE WILL BE SAVED THROUGH CONSTANT VIGILANCE BY THEIR PARENTS REGARDLESS OF THE SITUATION. TO BECOME MORE LIKE GOD, WE MUST NOT FORGET, BUT WE MUST FIND FORGIVENESS, AND IN DOING SO, WE NOT ONLY RENDER TO OUR SALVATION, BUT THE SALVATION OF HUMANITY. MY WISH FOR THOSE DIRECTLY INVOLVED IS THAT THIS EXPERIENCE ULTIMATELY STRENGTHENS THIER FAITH. GOD'S LOVE WILL ALWAYS SURROUND US. WE SIMPLY HAVE TO ACCEPT IT AND CHOOSE TO LIVE WITHIN THE REALM OF THE LORD. THIS MAY SOUND MORE DIFFICULT THAN IT REALLY IS. TO START, WE HAVE TO HUMBLE OURSELVES BY ACCEPTING OUR FALLIBILITY AND THE FALLIBILITY OF OTHERS. THEN SIMPLY GIVE OURSELVES TO GOD DAILY. YOU WILL FIND YOURSELF ENJOYING YOUR HUMANITY MUCH MORE. THESE ISSUES DEFINITELY SHOULD BE ADDRESSED; HOWEVER, MUCH MORE QUIETLY, AND WITH MUCH MORE DIGNITY.
The priest abuse scandal is so hurtful to so many of us, victims first and foremost. The truth is, all Catholics feel betrayed. And non-Catholics are no doubt affected too -- any moral person is aghast and sickened by this. Our universal feeling of betrayal will not be mended until Cardinal Law steps down. It is very important that this information has come out, and we can thank the Globe for uncovering it. Yet each day as the scandal is further exposed, and as scathing editorals mount, more damage is done: opening victim's wounds, shaming innocent priests, shocking devout Catholics. This painful phase must end - it is a nightmare. It will end by Cardinal Law stepping aside. Cardinal, it's time. Think of it as your penance. Let the healing and reform begin. God knows we all need it.
Virginia Sullivan, Brighton
Even as late as two weeks ago I was not one who believed that Cardinal Law needed to step down. My belief was that this problem ran much deeper than Law and that he was just following orders from the Vatican. That belief still exists as I believed that this was not just an issue with the local archdiocese. It wasn't long before we were reading and hearing about similar issues around the country and even in Europe. However, the problem is growing every day and it has gotten to the point where the local archdiocese in particular has suffered extreme damage from the behavior of these priests and the blind eye of Cardinals Madeiros and Law. I still belief that Law was acting on directives from the Vatican and he was a good soldier and followed. The local archdiocese though is in desperate need of new leadership, which Law just can't provide. He is a lightning rod right now and it is extremely difficult to sepaprate him from the priests behavior. The archdiocese needs someone new whom the catholics in the area and even noncatholics can look at as someone who can begin the healing process and clean up the mess that the archdiocese is currently in. Law is viewed by far too many to be part of the problem and therefore his efforts, as good as they may be, will not be enough. There is no confidence in Law and in the best interest of the archdiocese he needs to step aside for someone who can give it a fresh new start. The leadership of the Catholic church needs to stop turning the other cheek on this problem and deal with it head on. It is a serious threat to the church. Priests are men that people that people sought for comfort, people that they trusted with all their soul. Now that trust has been broken and it is difficult for many to seek comfort from them. People are also afraid to leave their children with them. The last people on earth parents should be afraid of leaving their children with are members of the church. The Catholic church preaches foregiveness and that seems to be the avenue taken with dealing with these priests, but the priests betrayed the forgiveness, the betrayed the church, they betrayed the Pope and they betrayed the Catholic followers. Above all else, they betrayed God. We have all been foregiven for some of our behavior. But most of us have not repeated that behavior. Priests can behave in ways that need to be foregiven as well. Afterall, they are human. But they should be answering to a higher calling and know that any misbehavior on their parts once foregiven, must never be repeated. Especially something as unforegiveable as taking away a child's innocense. I think the church needs to take a stance that this behavior and any behavior that is unbecoming to a priest will not be tolerated and dealt with appropriately. Criminal activity by members of the clergy will be addressed with the police. These guys knew there would be no repercussions for their actions. Now that the issue has surfaced and the names of the perpetrators are becoming public, priests should become less inclined to follow that path of behavior. If the church deals with wrongdoers appropriately thenthat should have a major effect. I don't believe that allowing priests to marry will in and of it self have much affect in solving the problem.
Howie, In reference to Joe Fitzgerald's column Monday(Boston Herald - 4/8/02), I agree there must be more balanced reporting. The fact is, most cases deviant behavior identified in this Church scandal are of a Homosexual nature, period. Calling a spade a spade shows both courage and integrity. Note, the vast majority of these scandals have involved post-pubescent males (although under the age of consent). True pedophilia is a disorder which involves a sexual attraction to children who have not reached puberty. God forbid anyone in this town makes this differentiation, lest they labeled by the Liberally "aware" as a homophobe or hater. Guess what? The Boston media treads lightly on this topic, rather than opening a discussion. Time for a little intellectual honesty, most of this behavior has been perpetrated by homosexuals…as uncomfortable as that sounds. Moral: All behavior eventually effects the order and common good of society...the chickens are coming to roost, just look around. Its time we get real. --Rob Quagan
Rob Quagan, West Roxbury, MA
The first thing the Catholic church should do is take responsiblity for the perpetuation of sexual assaults. Taking responsibility means owning up to it and it means asking those in charge to resign. Jesus forgave Judas for his betrayal but He didn't make him the head of His church. Secondly, the Catholic church should recognize that the rape or molestation of a child is not only a sin but a crime. Thirdly, the Catholic church needs to begin a dialogue on sexuality. The catholic church attracts sexual deviants because it refuses to speak on sexuality and forbids priests from discussing celibacy. We need to take away the elements of the church that make it so appetizing for sexual perpetrators. Fourthly, the Catholic church needs to rethink the role of priests in the church. The chursh should emphasize that they're only human beings who simply got a call to serve the Lord in this manner. They shouldn't be revered as saints but simply respected as individuals who want to serve the community in Jesus' name. Lastly, what a better time to allow women to receive Holy Orders. It was women who prepared Jesus for His death, women who weren't afraid to follow Him to His death, women who took Him down from the cross and prepared His corpus for burial. I think it's time we recognize that women can preach the Word.
Virginia Benzan Buyu, Somerville
He obviously made serious errors for which he has sincerely apologized. He also appears to be a man without guile who seeks to do the greatest good. The work he has done over the years for the poor and afflicted is remarkable. How many of us have dedicated so much of our talent to loving and serving our neighbor? Have the people of Boston forgotten these contributions? Let us nor forget that Cardinal Law has never personally abused a child. Let's direct our anger and demands for restitution to the perpetrators who committed these heinous crimes. One final thing. I take offense to the accusation that Church leaders throughout the country "paid off" all of these victims in the past. The Church recognized the seriousness of the crime and settled the case. If the victims would have preferred a greater monetary settlement in the courts, they were free to do so. I don't think every case was a payoff, so I hope the press begins to be more clear in their analysis. Also, I hope that all Christian readers of The Globe have the ability to pray for the victims and the Church in these difficult days. No matter what one holds to be the outcome for Cardinal Law, we should all have the compassion to pray for him.
T.L., St. Louis
Individual priests have committed atrocious acts, but the only sin committed by the church would be dishonesty. The church simply needs to identify its offenders and strip them of their power.
RICO laws should be appliee here and the entire church brought to justice. Can you imagine if this had happened in the Church of Scientology? They'd be closed down and all their proprty seized. I look forward to seeing St. Patricks subdivided into low income housing.
Catholics should boycott mass and withhold collection money until radical changes are made. Law should step down, obviously, but even more importantly, we need a modern Catholic church. Celibacy should be optional, women should be allowed in the priesthood, and the laity should be given more power. The Vatican isn't likely to make these changes, so maybe decent priests who are disgusted by the current state of the church should start an independent American Catholic Church.
Fed Up, Quincy, MA