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?
Cardinal Law’s appalling and shortsighted decisions in the cases of several pedophile priests was based on the calculation that protecting the Church was more important than protecting children. Cardinal Law’s current decision, to remain in his post,does the Church great damage. Apparently, the Cardinal believes that his own reputation is more important than the psychological and physical well being of the children of Greater Boston. Resign.
R. Donohue, Framingham
Cardinal Law should resign. Priests should be allowed to marry. Women should be allowed to become priests. If celibacy continues, it's like a door opening to attract the low life that the Catholic church is trying to clean up now. Our children will be in danger until this policy changes.
Shirley Vaughan, Laura & Kaitlynn - Love, Waltham
First, Cardinal Law, in the short-term and long-term interests of the Catholic church, needs to step down, profusely apologizing along the way. He knew about these terrible crimes and many, many innocent children, terrified by the mythical authority of the church, remained silent. Second, the church really needs to take a look at its celibacy policy for its priests/nuns. Might it be possible that some of these dysfunctional behaviors arise because they are forced to deny human beings their second-strongest instinct (surpassed only by that of survival??). I know it is a loaded proposal, with many potential pitfalls, but we need to ask the question for the sake of our youth.
We can ask our church officials to initiate changes in the church such as priests being allowed to marry, and allowing women as priests, and also to do a thorough background check on all new candidates. The status quo in the Catholic church just is not in keeping with the present times. In order to bring more people into the church, very drastic changes need to be made. Rome also needs to take a strong stand. Their silence appears to be indifference. Cardinal Law would certainly resign if the Pope so directed.
Judy Rigas, Everett, MA
A. Steps to take to address priest abuse: 1. Weed out the misfits in seminary stage; won't solve al the problems but wil reduce the problem. 2. Seriously look at the 'pool' of prospective applicants to the priesthood; why is it that so many heterosexual men do not feel comfortable or accepted in many seminaries today? 3. Church myust always remember their mision - a cal to holiness - not social relevance B. What can rank and file Catholics do? 1. Report any abuses - holler if necessary - do not be afraid to speak the truth! 2. Study your faith - take courses in theology - be an intelligent member of hte CHurch; understand how it works and where its weaknesses might be 3. Pray for the Church and all it memebers C. How Church can regain trust of its memebers? 1. As Catholics, we are united to Jesus - He is the One for Whom the CHurch exists, not the hierarchy of hte Church. 2. Humbly remind the hierarchy of their duties (when they step out of bounds) - remember what St Catherine did - she told the Pope to get back to Rome where he belonged - study Church history for encouragement!! 3. Maybe the hierarchy should sometimes take sabbaticals and work in poor and forlorn areas of hte world and bring to hte poor the message of jesus. Maybe they would be more humble! 4. Always - Always - Pray for the Church!!!!!
David Breen, Boston
I believe that the Catholic church is hypocritical in all that they preach. Unfortunately, our society as a whole has negative thoughts about same sex partners, but in turn a great portion of men who represent the Catholic church enter into the priesthood for protection from thier repressed innate homosexuality. A few "Our Father's and "Hail Mary's," after confession is all that is needed to be forgiven for your sins, in the Catholic eye. I feel strongly that all of the men who have molested children from the Catholic church should be convicted of thier crimes and removed from the priesthood, as well as be placed on a national list of known child molesters. I do not object to same sex relationships, as long as it is true and makes the individuals happy. What difference does it make to you personally if the person standing next to you is gay? I really don't care what their sexual preferences are as long as they know that a child is not for fondling. I give lots of credit to those individuals who have stepped forward to destroy the picture perfect image that the Catholic church has been falsely presenting for decades.
Erin Higgins, Salem
Please, your Eminence, because you love the church so much, step down!
Patricia C. Cruise, Cincinnati, Ohio
As growing up Catholic I have always been well aware that the Catholic Church hierarchy (especially Cardinal Law) has little respect for women, but never could I imagine how little respect they have for children and through their arrogance, they put their own selfish needs before children. Cardinal Law knowingly allowed children to be physically and psychologically traumatized and I am sure many others in the hierarchy turned the other way and blindly took orders from him. He stole children's childhood and severely damaged their psyche. He betrayed everyone's trust ... Cardinal Law should not only step down but he should be arrested. Furthermore, the Church structure needs to look into the underlining problem of why the church is attracting and or, perhaps unknowingly, grooming deviant sexual predators. Significant change needs to occur and if the church was not so threatoned by change they would realize the incredible potential the church would have if women could be priests and priests could be married. It would bring a whole new perspective and clerics would have a better sensitivity about children.
The underlying problem with the Catholic Church is that it is an oligarchy. The Catholic Church needs to become a democratic institution, with a balance of powers between the clergy and parishioners, and with a system of checks and balances so that neither group can abuse those powers. Until there is a balance of power in the Catholic Church abuses of one kind or another will continue to occur. “Absolute power corrupts absolutely”, Lord Acton, 1887.
I think that Law should step down and any priest caught or suspected of harming or molesting a child in their care should be delt with by the parents of the child in question. All holds barred! I know it sounds harsh but I think enough is enough.
James Spear , Brighton, MA