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?
I think they should arrest Cardinal Law.
I think it is about time to allow women to become preists and allow preists to get married. Cardinal Law also needs to step down.
Jennifer Gormley, Clinton
I have 2 family members who were abused by Father Porter, so I've lived this scandal for a decade. I can recall when this whole story broke, Cardinal Law going on television and asking that the Wrath of God fall upon these people who make these accusations. I had already lost my trust in the priesthood and this statement confirmed my original feelings. I have 3 children of my own who are being raised Catholic. God forbid they lose their innocence.
P Johnson, N. Attleboro
All catholics should withhold all financial contributions until a satisfactory response comes form the hiearchy. That's the only language they understand
Obviously, the first thing that must happen is for the Cardinal to resign. He has lost any claim to the credibility required to resolve the issue. Having said that, it is equally obvious that it would be difficult to determine who would be the appropriate replacement. The information coming forth suggests the possiblity of a cabal at worst. At best one wonders why not a single voice was raised among the clergy about an issue which must have been apparent to many. Should Rome assign a replacement from outside the United States? Perhaps, but it would take any such individual a long time to get up to speed in terms of knowledge of where "the bodies are buried" and to develop the temporal support required to rescue the Archdiocese from the financial mess Law has brought about. What Rome might do is establish a board of inquiry composed of lay persons of unquestioned integrity to investigate fully the wrongs that have been committed and the steps required to obviate any recurrence. However there is some question as to whether Rome itself possesses the credibility required at this juncture.
Max Shinemann, Clinton, MA
The first thing that all parties have to remember is that the number of offenders is a miniscule percentage of the number of priests in America. Yet we are bombarded by story after story - I am reminded of the media frenzy during the day care molestations a few years ago. When all the dust settled how many persons were convicted of crimes? How many convictions were overturned? Are we once again being treated to sensationalist journalism at it's worst? Yes what happened to the true victims is a crime and should be treated as such. However, let us remember the lessons of the past. An accusation is not proof. Reporters are justifiably quick to cite the 1st amendment. They should also remember another legal principal - Innocent until proven guilty - While putting a modifier such as "allegedly" if front of an accusation meets legal requirements it does not register with the average person during a frenzy - they assume the accused is guilty. No profession is totally free of miscreants - prior to 9/11 when police were mentioned in the media it was in relation to errors - the errors of a few stained the reputation of all - We must not let this happen with our priests - As far as trusting church officials. We must remember that the church is in the business of forgiveness not punishment. In hindsight yes things should have been done differently - errors were made - the hierarchy has proven itself human - we must not loose faith with our church. As a Roman Catholic I will continue to trust in god and the church - it has weathered many storms - admitted mistakes - proven itself subject to human frailties - why should it be denied the forgiveness that we all seek when we have erred?
Tim Tetreault, Petersburg, Virginia
The church should examine the historical reasons for priestly celebacy. It came about as married priests (as was the custom) were bequeathing their property to their children rather than to the church. As this is a man made rule, not a commandment form God, the church should allow, encourage married men with families to become priests. Further, women should be allowed, encouraged to become priests. When the hierarchy better reflects the church body in terms of marriage and gender, perhaps the problems of pedophilia and child abuse will finally cease.
I think the ONLY way the Church can begin to heal is if the people involved with the "cover-up", in Boston's case, Cardinal Bernard Law steps down. Trust can only be established once again when all parties who willingly chose to put children in jeopardy are no longer in power.
Patricia M., Everett
I don't think there is much that the church can do to "regain the trust of the faithful". The church does need to be more careful of who they choose to work with children, but at one point every child molesterer didn't have a record. One this is for certain, no priest should be allowed to be alone with any child, for any reason, ever. I wouldn't even trust my little girl with two priests. I am not Catholic, but went to Catholic schools and colleges in MA growing up. In my church, which is a Baptist church, no child is allowed to be alone with a paster, youth leader or Sunday School teacher. It should be the same in the Catholic church. In my opinion, it is better to have the mindset that anybody could do harm to my daughter than to just assume because of a persons position in life that they won't hurt my daughter.
Shel, Richmond, VA
I think the Catholic Church needs to do several things: 1) Quit the Denial and Stiff Arming 2) Stop trying to make victims bad Guys 3) Look at these cases with a sense of compassion, not anger 4) Make the Bishops and Cardinals accountable for their subornate Priest actions. 5) Any Changes that will have a lasting effect will have to come from Rome. I don't understand how a human being (the pope) can be infallible. 6) The Church and its leaders needs to understand the devasting effect of this type of molestation on the Victims and their families and relatives. This causes parishes and towns to become divided, victims often suffer from Alcholism, Drug Abuse, Broken relationshps and lives that are left in shambles. Some may never recover and turn to suicide.
Tossie, New Orleans