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?
For centuries, the Catholic Church hierarchy has demanded obedience and respect for its authority. Abuse of children and teenagers is, in a sense, the "perfect crime" for the Church because the child abuser, too, demands obedience and respect for authority from his victims. The only ways to address the problem of abuse is to deal with this culture in which it florishes. First, lay people must take control at the local parish level. The community must have the final power to hire and fire the parish staff, including priests. Second, those who are authentically called to be priests must be allowed by the Church to become priests. This means ordaining women and men, whether married or unmarried, whether heterosexual or homosexual. The only bar to such ordinations is a Church so enamored of its authority that it cannot admit it was wrong in banning such ordinations in the first place. Third, the culture of hierarchy must be replaced with a culture of community. We all - lay, priests, bishops, the popes - are each others' servants. The basic rule is to love each other (whether in or out of the Church) as we love ourselves. This means everyone gets to listen and everyone gets to speak. Finally, we must all realize that the Church is not a "thing" locked away in a Vatican vault needing at all costs to be defended.
Edward J. Santella, Malden, MA
Mr. Law (I will not dignify him by calling him "Cardinal" or "Father") should not only resign, he should also be tried as an accomplice. Celibacy should be abolished, as this lifestyle cannot possibly attract 'normal' or moral men. Every wolf needs his sheep's clothing, and for many years celibacy has only provided predators with this cunning disguise.
David N. Gagnon, Boston, MA
i was born and raised in the catholic church. my family is very religous and has been so forever. i believe in god, however i have very harsh feelings for the catholic church. i consider the organization to be one of the most corupt in the world. they are the wealthies business in the world. they pay no taxes. yet they always cry poverty. priests constantly ask for donations. now this sex scandal comes out. and we all know its just the begining. its time for this organization to face the music. these felons need to go to jail along with all thier conspirers. law needs to resign, all of the other accused should resign and turn themselves in. when the world is rid of these molesters catholics may then begin to restore their faith.
joe , brighton
Law needs to resign. He has lied about and covered up these horrible crimes. One thing that has been really awful is that not once has anyone in the Catholic Church said about how badly they feel about the victims. They were too concerned about moving these monsters along so they did not have to deal with them anymore.
em, Manchester, NH
I beleive this is a wake up call to all regarding how this institution is running things. Priests should be allowed to marry, not that this would take away the whole problem. Also, the vatican should enforce that even priests should have their records reviewed (criminal) or any other records that prior churches they served have.
Steps that need to be taken are: Church: Returning to the original Church rules, which lasted 1600+ years, wherein celibacy was a priestly CHOICE! We the Rank & File: 1) Refuse to attend services led by those celibate perverts; ie, all the purportedly celibate. 2) Accept Reality: The terrible church *celibate pretense* policy caused inestimable harm in our children, and now the wealthy church must pay. 3) Try our best to forgive the pope & church.
Keith Bradford, Dacula
Putting Bernard Law in jail would be a good start. Catholic laity will have to withhold the money, big time, before things start to change.
Mark Aldrich, Carlisle, PA
The horror of revelations in the last months points out the need for a total restructuring of the institution, including the role of women in the Church and the need for priests to be able to choose married life also. I still believe in the old adage "Do unto others as you would have them due unto you." That is my religious credo. Forget the institutions!
Anne Houlihan, Arlington
First and foremost Law needs to resign as well as any bishop who has been involved in cover-up. Dioceses need to hire lay people for major positions such as chancellor, director of pastoral services etc. Celibacy needs to be an option. Future bishops should come from perhaps religious communities who have little or no ties to the diocesan priesthood they are to serve.
Ann, Oxford, CT
LET'S BEGIN BY HAVING THE CARDINAL RESIGN. THE GUY IS AN INCREDIBLE FRAUD AND A POOR EXCUSE FOR A LEADER. SECONDLY, PRIESTS SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO MARRY. I DON'T BELIEVE JESUS CHRIST EVER INTENDED FOR PRIESTS TO BE CELIBATE.
MIKE, BEDFORD, NH