January 18, 2019

Letters to the Editor

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Focus on clericalism takes away from more serious problem, reader says

With respect, I must take issue with a recent editorial in the Nov. 30 issue of The Criterion attributing the sex-abuse scandal to the sin of “clericalism,” defined as the expectation of special privileges because of rank. This assessment is, in my judgment, misguided and dangerous, not because clericalism isn’t a concern, but because it diverts attention away from something far more serious—the homosexual problem.

The facts speak even when Church leaders remain silent. Based on the data presented in several sociological studies, including the Pennsylvania grand jury report, social scientists have found a strong link between homosexuality and clerical sex abuse. In more than 80 percent of cases, the victims were male; most were adolescents, and some were seminarians.

If the crisis was rooted in clericalism, the assault rate for female victims would be much higher than 20 percent. Outside the Church, the corresponding rate is more than 90 percent. In other words, the statistics overwhelmingly point to a homosexual problem. That doesn’t mean, of course, that most homosexuals are predators, but it does mean that, in the Church, most predators are homosexuals.

For the many souls who have been psychologically and spiritually harmed by this scandal, or for the many good priests who must suffer for the sins of a few, only the prospect of a rehabilitated Church can provide consolation. The first step in that process is to call things by their right name.

If the Church’s leaders continue to focus on clericalism, they will probably keep doing what they have always done—express sorrow, offer apologies, and kick the can on down the road. But if they assume their rightful role as shepherds and acknowledge the homosexual problem for what it is, they can reform the Church in the glorious tradition of St. Athanasius and, in the process, become saints themselves.

-Stephen L. Bussell | Indianapolis

Church must look at new ways of utilizing the laity in discerning Spirit’s guidance

The magisterium of the Catholic Church under Pope Francis realizes that the Church cannot continue to operate as it has in the past, and is beginning to evolve different and more inclusive and transparent shepherding.

The magisterium is taking up the crucial task of rebuilding people’s trust in the hierarchy and the credibility of the institutional Church.

Ministry in the Church is about service, a desire for holiness (purity), building a community of trust and friendship, faithfulness to the Gospel and the teachings of Christ and a constant presence of consolation and care.

All in the Church are called to holiness and in imitating Jesus, who is our guiding light to eternal life.

In order to do this, there must be a cleansing and ceasing of clericalism, and the mentality that revels in ecclesiastical ambition, status and power.

Shepherding of the Church must look at new ways of utilizing the laity in discerning the Holy Spirit’s guidance for the doing of ministry in the Church and integrating them into “meaningful” Church decision-making roles.

-Gary Taylor | Milan

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