I took a dim view of the letters from readers published Aug. 26 in regard to the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church [“Anger over role of church leaders”].
No one disputes that many priests committed heinous acts while the hierarchy ignored them. Our current bishops, however, are doing far more and have learned to protect the young and innocent. Let’s tell it as it is today. Bishops are openly compassionate toward the victims of abuse. We have heard this from Bishop John Barres of the Diocese of Rockville Centre many times before the most recent scandals.
Aside from reconciliatory and monetary programs they helped to create, the bishops have asked victims to reach out to police and the authorities. That hardly sounds like an organization looking to sweep charges under a rug! Nationally, our bishops are being asked to provide a concerned response to charges that are decades old. Many of the credible accusations occurred before these bishops were even ordained. They are following up to protect the young and support the victims.
I hope and pray that sexual abuse allegations in recent years have dropped precipitously. I believe our diocese has been exceptional in addressing a scandal that came to light almost two decades ago. After reading the Pennsylvania grand jury report and the response from Bishop Barres, I find no fault with him. In fact, I applaud him. He truly wants to help those who have been abused to be freed from torment and heal. He is a wonderful shepherd!
The letter writers expressed righteous outrage over developments in the Catholic Church regarding the handling of sexual abuse by priests and bishops. I’m sure their thoughts are shared by many clergy who have lived up to the vows they have taken. There are in these letters, however, several comments that need addressing.
One writer objected to the pope’s call for “Catholics to help end the cover-up.” The cover-up, the reader said, “was solely the work of the church,” by which, I assume, he means the hierarchy. But the church is more than those in rightful positions of service and authority. As the Second Vatican Council of 1962-65 reiterated, all the faithful are part of the church. When one part suffers, all are called upon to heal the wounds.
Two other writers said that if celibacy were abolished, child abuse would no longer be a problem in the church. Yet the church teaches that all are called to chastity in whatever life they choose. The fact that some do not live up to this call does not lessen its beauty and value. Many instances of child abuse occur in family situations.
While many may disagree, the Holy Spirit is still guiding and assisting the church and its followers in these times of soul-searching. How often have we heard the word “reconciliation” used in matters of serious wrong throughout the world? This might be a good time for all of us to work and pray for that day of reconciliation.
Prosecutors in New York, Missouri and Illinois, among others, have said they might investigate Catholic dioceses in their jurisdictions because of the cover-up of sexual assaults by Catholic priests. This scandal has resulted in more than $3.8 billion in payouts to victims, according to Bishop Accountability, a nonprofit group.
In New York, State Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan should drop his opposition to the Child Victims Act, which would give victims more time to bring civil or criminal cases.
Bishops in the United States are reportedly considering calling for a Vatican investigation conducted with expert laypeople into how Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, now resigned, was able to reach the highest ranks of the church despite rumors that he had abused young people.
As a Catholic, I am embarrassed. I suggest that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions and forensic accountants of the Justice Department check into every diocese. It’s time to leave no child behind, stop sugarcoating these crimes and enforce the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.
Thomas Folan,Port Jefferson
Rabbi Marc Gellman’s column “No time to lose faith in the Catholic Church” [LI Life, Aug. 26] provides the best orientation needed by all Catholics and the public. I’d like to add that each one of us is a product of the society in which we live. The problem of sexual abuse is being confronted not only in the church, but also in all of society.
Temptation is not a sin, and our society’s tendency to this infidelity at all levels needs prayer to help us avoid acting on our temptations. Regardless of religious creed, we need God’s help to deal with potential sin. If you lift your heart to God in whatever way you talk to him, you have to be heard.
Sister Marie Teresa Jensen,Brentwood
Editor’s note: The writer is a member of the Sisters of St. Joseph, a Catholic religious order.