The Church's Time of Agony
Readers Angry Yet Hope for Healing

The Kentucky Post [Kentucky]
Downloaded March 6, 2004

Pain, anger and hope. Those emotions run high in responses to the Readers Hotline this week on whether or not the Catholic Church has turned the corner in dealing with the national sexual-abuse scandal involving priests.

The church recently released reports outlining the scope and possible reasons for the crisis. Some readers remain angry at the church's past attempts to cover up the crimes, while others say leaders have begun acting sincerely and appropriately in dealing with victims and offending priests.

"It's possible that Christ is asking his church to suffer publicly to bring out in the open all the world's abuse today of his gift of sex," one e-mail read. "The Catholic church will survive."

Here are some of the comments:

Catherine Ampfer, Fort Thomas: "I believe the leaders of our church, especially Bishop (Roger) Foys, are acting sincerely to bring healing after this scourge. The church has survived many crises and will survive this one as well. I will always be faithful to the Catholic Church; it is not the church that has failed, it is some people who represented the church who have failed. These priests and bishops failed to be the good shepherds that they were called to be. They let us down, but I cannot leave my faith because of their failings; that would be spiritual suicide. To complete the healing necessary within our church, the bishops should call all Catholics to return to orthodoxy, to be obedient to the teachings of the church, to follow the Holy Father -- to be Catholic. After all, it is in straying from the tenants of the church that got us into this mess in the first place. Through faith and prayer, the church will emerge from this crisis a stronger and holier church."

Alicia Linstead, Erlanger: "I feel reassured that my own parish and (the Covington) Diocese have honestly put forth any information they've had, but whether others on a national level are doing the same, I doubt. They come across as very wishy-washy. It's like they're answering with the bare minimum information and only when they have to. I do think they're covering it up. If I wasn't Catholic, I would be totally turning up my nose at the Catholic Church. But since I am Catholic, I am placing my faith in God that the church will heal."

Walter Pierce, Covington: "As a Catholic, I am very disappointed in what has happened in our church with the priests' behavior. Church leaders have not acted correctly and sincerely in trying to heal this problem. The bishops and other church leaders for too long tried to deny the problem, tried to cover up the problem, and have not been honest with people in the parishes about the situation. With something like 9.5 percent of the priests in the Diocese of Covington involved in illicit behavior with children from 1950 to the present time, that number is much higher than the national average for all groups of men. Church leaders have failed the church in this whole crisis. There needs to be an admission of what's gone on and the bishops and the church need to deal with this problem in an honest, straightforward way."

Gabrielle Summe, Fort Wright: "Did the church permanently damage itself? I think each person has to answer that question for themselves. Personally, I think there was betrayal and secrecy. The permanency of the damage depends on how the situation is handled from this time forward and whether those who were most affected can forgive those that hurt them. I think the church leaders are sincerely trying to heal the church but the secrecy and the arrogance must stop. I was raised with the belief that "men" who are ordained are servants of God. These servants are to spread the word of God, but their ordination does not make them perfect or infallible. Becoming a priest did not make them more than human. The priests who have committed these crimes should be punished. Also, I believe that there are truly good priests who have dedicated their lives to God's teachings and they should be respected for their role in the church. I remain faithful to the church because I believe the core of the church is its teachings. I believe in those teachings and find solace and hope in their messages. If tomorrow there was no physical place to worship or any priest to say the Mass, it would be sad but it would not change what I believe."

Gary Johnston, Edgewood: "I think by having had a lay board study the matter that the Catholic Church is at least heading in the right direction. But I also think that the "problem" has been promoted into the higher echelons of the church, and this is partly to blame for the lack of ethical and moral response from some of the church leadership."


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