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?
Priest pedophiles and anyone who aided and abetted them should be treated like the common felons that they are. They should all be held accountable, including bishops, cardinals and any other guilty party. Also if the Pope knew about the crimes and did nothing about the situation, he should resign. My only hope is that the Catholic schools and Catholic hospitals will not be closed because of the selfishness of so many priests.
S. Boyd, Chicago
Among other things, lay trustees should be installed to oversee activities in the archdiocese. Greater accountability to the laity is obviously required.
WJD, Austin, Texas
America, like most structured societies, is a nation of laws, not men. The future of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States does not appear to be promising, to say the least. Nearly all of the ranking clergy in the church, in the United States, and in Rome, fail to grasp the magnitude of the church's growing sex scandal. Every day new stories appear in the press. The Catholic clergy just don't seem to understand, or want to, that they are being exposed, by the media, and this series of reported sex crimes, as a "brotherhood" of criminals, liars and perverts who have learned to use their positions of leadership,the privilages of office, and, the impact of the bully pulpit, to "impose grev-ious harm", upon the faithful masses of the church across the country. Americans of all religious faiths, including Roman Catholics, want every clergy person, regardless of denomination, to be held to the same, or higher behavioral standards than lay persons. This is especially true in matters of deviate, anti-social, sexual and criminal behavior. If a priest, brother, nun or lay minister, for instance, sexually abuses or assaults a child, he/she must be arrested, tried, and, if found guilty, imprisoned, in conformance with existing laws, just as an average person would be. Preferential treatment should not be afforded to priests who are pedo-philes, or to religious members who physically or emotionally abuse children just because these persons earn their living as clerical representatives or operatives of the church. Clergy should not consider themselves to be above the law nor encouraged to think they are by the actions of their superiors! Likewise, if another church official or lay person, or groups of such persons, attempts to aid and/or abet a priest or other clerical person, in the com-mission of an act of a sexually deviate nature, he/she (or they) should be charged with a crime and treated accordingly by the judicial system. Correspondingly, if clerical administrators, supervising clergy and/or titular leaders (bishops, cardinals, etc.) use, or have used, their exalted positions of responsibility and authority to perpetrate systemic pedophelia, knowingly, by their underlings, or if they have attempted to systemically hinder the prosecution of known pedophiles in their ranks, they too should be charged, as accessories to the commission of a crime, and punished accordingly. All purveyors of aberrant, anti-social behavior should be prosecuted, and, if found guilty, sent to prison, without exception! This includes archbishops and cardinals and their superiors in Rome too, if applicable! It is this respondent's view that "the larger Roman Catholic Church" must take drastic steps to rid itself of the human element, within its ranks, that committs and/or tolerates the commission of perverse acts upon unknowing and/or unsuspecting members of its patently sub-missive "flock". If the church hopes to survive the years remaining in this decade, and beyond, as a viable religious institution in America, it must expose and punish the vermin in its ranks, and publically atone for their past wrong doings, as quickly as time permits. Failure to do so, post haste, will result in mass defections of millions of active church members, over the next ten years, far beyond any cleric's imagination! Many, many thousands of Church faithful, and their millions of dollars in financial support, will go to other religious denominations, that are locally controlled, in America, and patently open in their organizational affairs. Perhaps even to a breakaway American Catholic Church may emerge from all of this, if Rome fails to act affirmatively!! If the Roman Catholic Church in America doesn't act forcefully to redeem itself it will die a miserable, pauper's death, sooner than most of this church's heirarchy and their advisors believe possible. This includes overt redemption among those individuals in positions of authority, in the Church, who condone abberant sexual conduct or attempt to "sweep charges of such behavior under the rug" by stonewalling or legal chicanery. They have to be removed!! The church, from Rome, must proactively call upon the American legal system, in each and every jurisdiction, and, indeed, throughout the civilized world, to perform its policing and pro-secutorial duties unsparingly against sexual predators in church ranks. At the same time, the church's ultimate leadership, in Rome, must issue a blanket order for absolute, complete, totally uncompromising cooperation with civilian authorities", to its entire religious rank & file, worldwide. In a nutshell,"Its high time that the church begin to morally feed its people, rather than feed off them!" I has to do so in deed, words will not do...
Rev. Joseph Girzone (ret.), Altamont, NY
The Cardinal should resign.
Karen Corrao, Pembroke, MA
The only reason Cardinal Law has to stay in power is to clean up the mess he is accountable for. But others can do that if he leaves and with much greater moral authority than this man who placed the Shephard's Association ahead of the flock. So the only real reason he is staying is pride -- he wants it to be said that he cleaned up the mess. The Cardinal has enough issues to worry about without adding pride to his examination of conscience.
Dennis, Minneapolis, MN
I am a victim of abuse myself. I am appalled that the church thinks that pedophile priests are above the law. These individuals are predators who hide behind the collar and prey on the vulnerability of children. Priests should be allowed to marry, be gay, and be women. They all should be prosecuted the same when they commit a crime-just like everyone else. I just hope that Cardinal Law can sleep at night.
The cardinal and all the known pedophiles should live out their days in a monastery shut off from the world to atone for their sins. The pope should allow priests to marry. It's unnatural to expect a man to go through life as a celibate. The church is still in the dark ages and needs major reform. You can't apply those old doctrines to this modern world.
Jean Fleming, Lynn
The scandals that are rocking the Catholic church are an abomination, however, it is high time that this comes to light. The safety of future generations, as well as some sense of relief for past victims hinges on unveiling these ugly truths. The first thing that should happen already has started. All of the names of any priests involved in any type of allegation regarding pedophilia should be turned over to the authorities, regardless of "gag orders" or "hush money" spent by the church. Any member of the church who was in a supervisory capacity that was aware of any of these allegations and insisted on protecting their fellow clerics should be, at the very minimum, forced to resign, and in some cases, prosecuted for criminal intent and neglect. Why should a cleric be allowed to skirt the laws of our society? In fact, clerics should be operating, by virtue of their moral committment and conviction, to enhance such laws, not circumnavigate them at will. In the future, any such disgusting allegation against a priest should be handled in the same fashion that would occur in say a teacher/pupil scenario. The allegations should immediately be turned over to local law enforcement who can then investigate, indict, and prosecute. Under no circumstances should the church shield its members, nor should they allow parents to accept bribes in exchange for silence...This can only result in the possibility of increasing the list of victims who deal with these issues for the rest of their lives. There is no consensus regarding the so-called treatment of pedophilia, nor is there a widely acceptable form of rehabilitation. Any civilian who is caught and prosecuted for this type of crime is subjected to the full force of the law. Why would a cleric, of any kind, be any different. In my opinion, they should be held to higher standard, not a lower one.
susan miller, johnson city, tn
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH ADMINISTRATION IS IN SHAMBLES AS FAR AS I'M CONCERNED. NOT ONLY IS THE PROBLEM IN AMERICA BUT ALSO INTERNATIONALLY. I AM A CATHOLIC AND HAPPY TO SAY THAT MY FAITH IN MY BELIEFS IS NOT SHAKEN. HOWEVER, ANY FAITH THAT I DID HAVE IN THE CHURCH HIERARCHY HAS BEEN SHATTERED. WHILE RECOGNIZING THAT THERE ARE STILL SOME GOOD PRIESTS & NUNS OUT THERE IT HAS BECOME OBVIOUS THAT THE CHURCH'S LEADERSHIP HAS FAILED AND BETRAYED ITS PARISHONERS. WHAT I FIND INTERESTING IS THAT MANY MEDIA OUTLETS REFER TO THE SCANDAL AS UNFOLDING FOR THE PAST FEW MONTHS. HAVE WE SO QUICKLY FORGOTTEN ABOUT JAMES PORTER JUST SEVERAL YEARS BACK? I CALL ON CARDINAL LAW TO RESIGN IMMEDIATELY AND I ALSO FEEL THAT HE ALONG WITH ANY OTHER MEMBERS OF THE ADMINISTRATION THAT ALLOWED THESE UNGODLY ACTS TO PERSIST FOR SO MANY YEARS SHOULD BE HELD ACCOUNTABLE BY LAW ENFORCEMENT FOR THEIR CRIMES. WHO ARE THEY TO THINK THAT THEY ARE ABOVE THE LAW. A CHILD'S INNOCENCE IS ONE OF PUREST THINGS KNOWN TO MAN, TO HAVE THAT VIOLATED IS UNFORGIVABLE. THESE MONSTERS PUT THEMSELVES IN A POSITION OF AUTHORITY WHERE THEY WERE FULLY AWARE THAT THEY COULD PREY UPON THE WEAK AND VULNERABLE. MAY THEY ALL ROT IN HELL.
CHRIS, FALL RIVER
This is going to get much worse before it gets better. Why don't a group of concerned laypersons get together and make a trip to the Papal Nuncio in Washington and advise him that Cardinal Law has to go.
Joe Hayes, Hopewell, Virginia