May 9, 2008

Letters to the Editor

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No letters to the editor were published this week; here is last week's letter:

Restoring priorities will help the Church move forward in its mission

During his recent visit to the United States, Pope Benedict XVI showed us what it means to stand on principle and speak the truth in love.

Though he radiated joy and inspired millions with his quiet charisma, he didn’t hesitate to express his most urgent pastoral concern. Quite simply, he wants no more priestly sex scandals.

Summing it up for reporters, he said, “I am deeply ashamed, and we will do what is possible so this cannot happen again in the future.”

He also made it clear that, as Catholics, we are all in this thing together. So we are faced with a question: What steps should we take to honor the Holy Father’s wishes?

So far, we have relied on and, it would seem, plan to continue with what strategists call the “juridical” approach.

Some, for example, are recommending changes in canon law to give victims more opportunities to come forward. Others are asking for more sophisticated law enforcement.

To be sure, these are important steps, but are they enough? More to the point, whatever happened to the “preventative” approach?

Let’s not kid ourselves. Our clergy did not fall from grace because administrators were incompetent or even because the world intruded itself and its perverse values on an otherwise innocent Church.

It happened because the vast majority of Catholics, including a sizable number of lukewarm bishops, either ignored or de-emphasized the Church’s teaching on sexual morality. To put it bluntly, we allowed chastity to take a back seat to social justice.

If misplaced priorities are the problem, then restored priorities are the cure. That is why we should worry less about managing the effects of this crisis and more about confronting its causes—less about imposing bureaucratic initiatives after the fact and more about establishing a culture of chastity before the fact.

An ounce of faithful teaching in our homes, schools, churches and seminaries is worth a ton of zero tolerance policies.

That should not surprise us. We are, after all, supposed to be in the business of saving souls and building saints.

If we can rededicate ourselves to that noble mission, we will have little cause to worry about sex scandals.

Stephen L. Bussell, Indianapolis

(Editor’s Note: For more information about what the Archdiocese of Indianapolis is doing to protect children, log on to

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