BY John Lilly
October 21-27, 2007 Issue | Posted 10/16/07 at 12:14 PM
Whither Common Sense?
Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons commented in a letter to the Register, “Thorough Investigation” (Sept. 9), that he would like to see diocesan review boards evaluate more thoroughly the backgrounds of priests’ accusers.
It seems to me that a type of “reflex action” takes place every time an individual alleges that a member of the clergy sexually molested them. The priest is immediately pulled from his assignment without any real investigation, either about the allegation or the background of the accuser. Then it takes months, if not years, before a decision is made to either laicize the priest or to return him to ministry.
I personally know of an elderly priest, a good and holy man, who was “accused” of exposing himself in the darkened box of a confessional. It was known in the parish that the woman was unbalanced, but that made no difference to the archdiocese. He was not permitted to hear confessions for a long period while an “investigation” began. To this day, no determination has been made about the truthfulness of this accusation made by this disturbed person. But now the priest is not permitted to go into the classrooms of the parochial school and visit the children, something he loved to do in the past. Who knows why?
The “Defending Marriage” editorial (Sept. 9) quotes Dr. Paul McHugh stating that the John Jay investigation on sexual abuse by priests is a “bombshell.”
Perhaps so, but for the most part this bomb is still in its shell. I doubt if 1% of Catholics have been informed of its contents.
The findings are upsetting: 1) Despite the widespread use by the secular media of the term “pedophilia,” the report does not use this word. Instead, the term used is the more ominous one: “predator priest.” 2) Eighty-one percent of the victims were male; after 1970, 86% of the victims were male. 3) There was more “than a sixfold increase in the number of reported acts of abuse of males aged 11 to 17 between the 1950s and the 1970s.” 4) The Review Board further states, “More that three-quarters of the victims were of an age such that the conduct does not meet the clinical definition of pedophilia.” Only 6% of the victims were children under the age of 8. 5) The board concludes quite pointedly on page 8, “Any evaluation of the causes and context to the current crisis must be cognizant of the fact that more that 80% of the abuse at issue was of a homosexual nature.” (Emphasis added.)
As a practicing physician, rarely can I attribute the etiology of 80% of cases of any disease to a single entity. The Catechism does call for the treatment of those with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies with “respect and sensitivity” and does refer to the “trial” for many that this tendency represents. Nonetheless, homosexual acts are labeled “acts of grave depravity.” And, for those seeking help, the Catholic Medical Association’s website (cathmed.org) does contain a link to “Homosexuality and Hope.”
A. Patrick Schneider II, MD, MPH
I was ecstatic to see the Sept. 30 Culture of Life section with a front-page focus on the Rosary and the power of this most remarkable prayer, “Weapon of Mass Devotion.” Recently, the American Life League launched its first-ever Our Lady of Life Rosary campaign for, like you, we believe strongly that within this prayer resides the armor of God we need to end the culture of death once and for all.
Thank you for being there, educating us and reminding us that in all things, even when it comes to ending abortion, nothing is impossible with God.
Judie Brown, president
American Life League Inc.
I am in RCIA, 44 years old, and have been truly in a conversion process to Roman Catholicism for this my second year. I cannot tell you what a blessing the Register is for me.
I learn so much of my faith and Catholic values from you. I heard about you because we get your paper often at my church, together with another one that I don’t like so much. Please keep up the good work. There are many voices that speak to all members of the family of Christ.
Your voice speaks to me, and, because of that, even though my TV is off, I get to read the newspaper again! I am especially grateful for your courage in printing the story about the aborted twin, “Wrong Twin Aborted” (Sept. 30) and how one twin changed places with the other — such a story of Jesus.
After first taking a four-week subscription, I took a year subscription because in those first four weeks I came to understand that the Register told the truth no matter what. Some stories were not pretty pictures of the Church but they nevertheless told the truth, and also covered very controversial subjects in daily life throughout the world.
I began to rely on the Register to know the facts of things and today I treasure each copy, as I read it from front to back and then hand this treasure on to a friend who hands it on to another friend.
I have come to rely less on my own diocesan weekly periodical as a result, which I also read because of the local interest items there. Along with EWTN, the Register keeps me up to the minute in my faith.
Someone agrees with Mark Shea that we should have “In Doubtful Things, Liberty” (Sept. 30). His name is Joseph Ratzinger.
Before the 2004 U.S. presidential elections, the future Benedict XVI wrote to the archbishop of Washington to remind him that: “While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.” There are those who will ignore all but the words between “while” and “it may,” but they don’t really speak for the Church.
Regarding “Divorce: In the Image and Likeness of Hell” (Sept. 30):
Thank you for your long overdue attention on a crucial topic. There are many who are in very difficult marriages and the advice that is given is mostly given without understanding the deeper level of God’s plan or the attributes of God who allowed the union to be blest.
The present culture and prejudices only add to the dilemma of those who are in difficult situations. I am looking forward to your continuing treatment of this subject. You have already given much to feed on. You have also touched the heart to give added strength to what is already there.
Many have left the Church because of the lack of understanding and support for seeing an all transcendent God in the vocation that has been around since the beginning.
God has a plan, and we need to give all the support we can, even in the most dire situations.
Regarding “Divorce: In the Image and Likeness of Hell” (Sept. 30): Thank you, Melinda Selmys!
It’s refreshing to hear people say it like it is. For whatever reason, such brutally honest writing seems rare in much of the Catholic press. It’s as if those who promote Catholic teaching are afraid it won’t go over so well if we talk about the real sufferings of following Jesus. So we conveniently promote the glories of the Christian life without a realistic assessment of the sorrows. I, myself, have been guilty of that on occasion.
In light of how many people believe the Church is “down on sex,” the glories to which authentic Catholic teaching calls spouses in their union should be emphasized. But these glories are the fruit of embracing much purifying suffering, as Selmys makes clear.
If the joy is not set before us, we will have no motivation to endure the suffering. But if the path to those joys is not also realistically assessed, we will näively wonder why marriage is so agonizing.
True love is always linked with suffering. As Father Paul Quay said in his book The Christian Meaning of Human Sexuality, “It is precisely this link between true love and suffering that is rejected by sexual sin.”
Christ suffered greatly in loving his spouse. Thanks, Melinda Selmys, for reminding us what it means to follow him.
Theology of the Body Institute
Thanks very much for running the Inperson with Father Brian Kolodiejchuk titled “Mother Didn’t Doubt” (Sept. 16).
I am amazed at the amount of activity Father Brian has participated in on behalf of Mother Teresa of Calcutta since 1977. He certainly doesn’t appear to look very old right now!
Hopefully Father Brian’s cause for the beatification and canonization of Mother Teresa will be successful. I’m certain that saint John Paul II will help the cause for his friend from his new position with the Church triumphant.
Please continue to provide the excellent Catholic news coverage as you have been for some time now.
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