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?
First and foremost, the Vatican needs to apologize for saying that this is just a case of Puritanical American journalists making a big deal out of sex--as just a very tiny first step. This has nothing to do with the beauty of adult consentual sex. This is about power, depravity, and the breaking of the human spirit and soul. Then Law needs to say over and over and over again how truly sorry he is to these poor, damaged, broken men who suffered at the hands of these pirahnas. Unfortunately, I don't see that happening, so he MUST resign. It will take a lot of time to heal, and it's going to take time and patience on the part of the Church and those who still serve to reassure, over and over again, that it was not the fault of the children and that the Church was wrong. I have been thinking lately about a wonderful priest I knew growing up. Where is he now? Did he leave the priesthood? I think the Church should invite all loving and God-loving men who left the priesthood to return, married or not, children or not. They have the training and if they want to, they could help. I think that the Church should then invite all the intelligent, vibrant lay people who left the Church to come back and help reestablish a more healthy, mutuality-based Church. Women and nuns need to be granted an equal voice in the Church. And while we're at this reformation, we could do without the sour, mean, hurtful nuns and embrace all those women who truly love God and people. Conservatives have destroyed this Church that I once loved. It's not a matter of returning to the old ways; Vatican II didn't go far enough! Drop- ping the Latin and allowing guitars at mass is not what's needed. Allow priests to marry, period. A priest cannot advise a couple unless he understands what it really means to live in partnership with another person. Allow women some kind of control over their reproduction. Recognize divorce, but do away with the annulment process, which leaves the offspring of a marriage that "never happened" slightly confused. I could go on forever. There is so much hypocracy and contradiction in the Church. Anyone who is still attend- ing mass is either in severe fear and denial or they are simply choosing which parts of the religion they like. Cardinal Law needs to open the dialog, and NOW. We need to talk this into the ground, way past the point where people are sick of hearing about it, to the point where the victims begin to actually believe that they are loved, by God and by their fellow parishiners. I have cried for the victims of these crimes and my only hope is that they find some peace in this lifetime. May God help them to love themselves again. I have not seen the hierachy of the Church showing one ounce of concern for these people.
Erin, formerly of Hingham
The time has come for drastic reform within the church. We must allow priests to marry. Further, we must also allow women to become priests. The current scandal along with dwindeling parish census and the shortage of priests make the above reforms neccesary for the church to survive.
Faith seeking understanding, Quincy
Law should resign. He has failed miserably in his role.I am very interested in this case not only b/c I am a Catholic but b/c Hughes is now AB in New Orleans. I have little confidence in him due to his role in Boston. One problem with the church has always been that each diocese handles things differently. There should be a nationally accepted process. What that process should be I am not sure. In order to regain trust there must be ZERO TOLERANCE. If an accusation is made against a priest he must be reassinged until it has been fully investigated. If a second accusation is made, he is OUT. Rank and file Catholics can stop giving money and stop attending church temporarily to get the attention of the churhc leaders. It only then that they will begin to listen to us.
Diana, New Orleans
Very simple concept: Get with the program and eliminate celibacy as a condition of priesthood because the entire concept is not natural and ordaine women priests. It isn't the 14th century anymore, and the whole concept of celibate priests was done for no other reason other than to protect the church's property from falling into the hands of a priest's widow! The Catholic church is a corrupt organization and what is happening now should come as a surprise to no one, even as gruesome as it is.
I stopped being a Catholic a long time ago. No women priests and the fact that priests cannot marry were among the reasons - the current scandal highlights the need for a complete overhaul of the church.
Growing up Catholic meant being taught that the only acceptable form of sexual relations was between a man and his wife for the sole purpose of procreation. God forbid anyone had sex outside of that category. There was much guilt we all felt about sex, especially anyone dealing with questions about their orientation. The church told us all of this was wrong. Now, we find out, that these hypocrites were committing these sex crimes, while their superiors were aware of it. Why should we take seriously anything they say now? ALL moral authority has been lost. I left the church years ago because of what I saw then as an institution of hypocrisy. But that hypocrisy pales in comparison to what I see now. They've lied and tried to cover up their mess, and now try to come across as trying to help. Well, only because they were FORCED to. As recently as last week they were fighting the victims. What message does this send? That the church's primary concern is itself, not its parishoners. I'll never set foot in the catholic church again, but I feel especially bad for my mother, who has always found peace with her faith. Now that faith is rocked because of this scandal and the coverup. I would love to see Cardinal law go to jail, but that doesn't seem likely. But he should get out - it's time to take out the trash. No one is EVER going to begin to regain trust in the church with that liar at the top. Cardinal Law, get out. Go away. Get out of Boston. I hope no one ever gives a dime to this institution. Yes, the church does a lot of good with charities. Give your money directly to them, and bypass the middle man. With what could be $1 billion dollars in sex crime settlements in this country alone, don't tell me none of that has come from the collection plate.
In order to address this ongoing crisis, the first step the Catholic Church should do is force Cardinal Law to resign. Not only has he deceived the public about his full knowledge of allegations of abuse, but he continued to support and praise these priests in their profession, promoting them while shuffling them off to another parish. The second step the Catholic Church should do is to seriously reconsider the mandated vows of celibacy, and let priests marry and have families. Maybe then the Church will be able to regain the public's trust.
RM, Everett, MA
It seems that the church had a choice years ago. They could protect the priests or they could protect the children. It seems that they chose to protect the children. In any other walk of life, they would have been dismissed and maybe prosecuted.
Steve, Randolph, MA
It is appalling that any institution, particularly one that is charged with the moral and spiritual wellbeing of its members, would put its own reputation ahead of the interests of innocent children.
Jeff Jones, Newton
The role of the shepherd is to protect his flock - the cardinal failed in this role - and he must go! He said at the cathedral that the Boston church is suffering with Christ on the cross - The boston church was indeed there - but not suffering with Christ. The Boston church was nailing Him to the cross! The cardinal must answer for his actions - Didn't Christ say - whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers that you do unto me - and the cardinal insured that these predators would have the freedom to prey on our children - that's what he did to Christ. Each priest might have abused hundreds - by allowing this to continue, the cardinal abused thousands - The cardinal says he didn't know - that he had bad advice - The cardinal is not a stupiid man. Had he received this bad advice about a pastor who was stealing - he would have used his better judgement and NEVER allowed that priest to be responsible for money again. This I believe in my heart - he would have protected the money - and we know he did not protect the children- and for this he must go. And may God have mercy on his soul