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Letters: Disgust over role of Catholic leaders in abuse scandal

Pope Francis issued a letter to Catholics around

Pope Francis issued a letter to Catholics around the world condemning priestly sexual abuse, its cover-up and demanding accountability. Above, he speaks at the Vatican on Aug. 19. Credit: AP / Gregorio Borgia

The headline “Pope condemns abuse by clergy” [News, Aug. 21] had a secondary headline that the pope “urges Catholics to help end cover-up.”

Really! This massive cover-up was solely the work of the church, which has cared for its flock like a shepherd who falls asleep as wolves circle the sheep. So many in the hierarchy have been involved for decades.

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, while archbishop of Milwaukee, was reported to have received Vatican permission to move $57 million into a cemetery trust fund to protect the assets from sexual abuse victims demanding compensation, although in 2013 he denied seeking to shield church funds. This truly sounds like a person caring for his flock — if his flock were money!

Pope Francis states now that “we did not act in a timely manner.” I can only assume he means the church has now paid almost $4 billion to settle claims because that is what means the most to this church. On Long Island, Bishop John Barres has initiated a reconciliation and compensation program in which victims are financially compensated if they agree not to pursue legal action against the diocese. Wow! I guess paying money to keep sexual abuse by priests out of the paper is the best use of funds collected at Sunday Mass. No morals, no shame.

George A. Szarmach,Dix Hills

As a former practicing Catholic, it saddens me to see deeper and more far-reaching evidence of decades-long abuse of children across many dioceses, further emphasizing the fact that our religious institutions can be as corrupt and deceptive as our political institutions. Many who have left the church or remain loyal look forward to a future when Catholic clergy are allowed to marry, to further ensure the end of practices that deeply harm our children.

Annette Daiell,Roslyn

I find it ludicrous that the Catholic Church considers reaching out to victims by financially compensating them if they agree not to pursue legal action against the diocese to be a way to promote healing. The way to promote healing is to uncover wrongdoing and face the legal consequences. Otherwise, it’s just more of the cover-up that has festered for years. The shame is overwhelming.

Diane McGuire,Northport

A grand jury determined that more than 1,000 children were sexually molested in Pennsylvania by more than 300 priests. Retired Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington resigned in disgrace in July over sexual abuse of children and seminarians.

Long Island’s bishop, John Barres, said that while bishop of Allentown, Pennsylvania from 2009-17, he was not responsible for a cover-up, and that the grand jury report contains mistakes about his actions. I wish his statement had instead offered condolences and comfort to the victims, the children.

Earlier this summer, the bishop wrote a pastoral letter condemning the evils of artificial birth control, gender fluidity and unisex bathrooms. This is the shepherd of Long Island’s Catholics? We deserve better.

Mary McKenna,North Bellmore

The Catholic hierarchy must address why such abuse takes place and how to prevent it. Answering those questions is more important than taking action with respect to a priest who has already committed such perverted acts. A candid admission is in order, however uncomfortable. The fact is that celibacy is unnatural, and when unnatural situations are imposed and accepted, unnatural consequences occur. It seems obvious that the church’s requirement of priestly celibacy unintentionally fosters, to a significant degree, the molestation of children. The church must recognize that, and though difficult, revoke its celibacy rule.

Morality is at the core of the church’s religion, and should take precedence in convincing its leaders, particularly Pope Francis, for whom I have great respect, in changing its long-standing rule that priests cannot marry, and accept whatever negative effects such a change may have. The situation requires drastic measures. The focus should be on the prevention of molestations.

Robert Wilson,West Islip