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For some, the critical injustice came in the church's treatment of gays, divorcees and women. For others, it's the church's handling of priests involved in child molestation, solicitation, drug involvement, alcoholism, illicit affairs or financial misdealings. Still others were turned off by priests who feel justified being showered with homes, cars, housekeepers and cooks, while those they serve struggle to make ends meet and wonder whether they'll still have a job tomorrow. Some alienated Catholics are disturbed that priests purport to counsel parishioners in areas where the clergy have little or no education.

That a man in Father Apuzzo's position is only now discovering the extent and effects of sexual abuse is an excellent case in point. There are plenty of injustices, and a clear refusal by the church to deal openly with any of them. While bishops complain that they shouldn't be responsible for policing their priests, they retain that responsibility by maintaining secrecy and protecting their own.

Pete Legato



Quit Your Whining

I would like to know what so-called Catholics like Janet Giampietro hope to accomplish by complaining about all their personal gripes with the Catholic Church. Truly concerned Catholics should speak to their parish priests, help organize a question and answer forum at your church, write to the Bishop, or write to the Catholic Virginian with opinions about the current problems.

I am tired of people using the pedophile issues to moan about everything that bothers them about the church (i.e., divorce, birth control, women priests, homosexuality) to anyone who will listen. Sorry, but these issues are what make the Catholic Church different from other churches, and they are not going to change to make your life easier or to become more "politically correct." American Catholic liberalism is probably what contributed to our current fiasco.

Maybe this is a good time for all Catholics to become more knowledgeable and involved in our own religion. Maybe it took something like this to make us see that Satan is alive and well. Bad men are everywhere and a few in the Catholic Church will not bring it down. I challenge all Catholics who might be praying for America, for the president and for peace to also pray for more good priests.

Judy Bugay



Blame Pedophiles, Not Gays

I want to thank Style for its unbiased and non-sensational articles about pedophilia in the Catholic Church. Many in the news media who call themselves journalists sensationalize this very sad story, and by doing so, encourage a hysteria that is unnecessary, damaging and inappropriate.

While the acts of a very small proportion of priests and a few leaders within the Catholic Church are despicable and hypocritical, the public enables this sensationalizing by their own hypocrisy and ignorance of sexuality in general.

I imagine that an equally small percentage, or perhaps a larger percentage of male, heterosexual teachers and youth leaders act sexually aggressively or "inappropriately" toward young women. There are far more heterosexuals in the world than homosexuals, and since heterosexuals hold, overwhelmingly, the greatest power in media, business, education and services, it seems reasonable to assume that the damage to young people caused by heterosexuals, and the denial of such, is far greater than can ever be caused by even all the priests in the world, or for that matter all the homosexuals. But, since shame is assigned to homosexual acts, the dark side of heterosexuality does not make for sensational headlines. In addition, it is false to assume that men who sexually aggress on boys are homosexual.

I am a lapsed Catholic. I have no reason to defend the church as an institution. And I have serious questions about the psychological relationship between the actions of some priests and the American Catholic Church of my youth's oppressive teachings about the human body and sexuality. I do know, however, that homosexuality and pedophilia are no more related than heterosexuality and pedophilia.

The American Catholic Church and parents across the country would do best to focus their efforts and prayers on understanding the causes of pedophilia rather than by blaming homosexuals, yet again, for whatever is the new and evil.

Jim Long



Truth's Power Sets Us Free

The reason American Catholics are "brokenhearted" and angry about "the too-little-too-late response of the church leadership" may be hypocrisy, as Janet Giampietro writes. But at the root of the hypocrisy and coverup around child abuse in the church is a "sacred system" of a closed hierarchical leadership for maintenance of power and control.

Anyone knowing the dynamics of sexual abuse and its accompanying conspiracy of secrecy, silence and coverup can tell us that it's about gaining and maintaining dominance over the other(s). It's not about sex. It's about power.

Interventions for victims are centered on helping them regain power over their own lives, the God-given power of self-determination. Victims are supported in naming the abuse and the abuser; learning that it's not their fault; holding the perpetrator accountable; and embarking upon a process of healing the brokenness caused by the abuse.

As members of a church identifying itself as the body of Christ in our world, we are both victims and enablers in this abuse of power. The members of the body have been abused by the power structure of domination and yet we are also guilty of accommodation and collusion by allowing this abuse of power to continue and be maintained, especially among our most vulnerable ones. By our compliance with this dominance-submission system as God-ordained, we have even taken on the values of our oppressing "sacred system." In bowing, scraping, kneeling, breast-beating, granting lordship and keeping silence, we have embraced the slavery from which Jesus set us free!

It's time to stop the abuse now by naming it as sin and a crime, and by bringing the abusers and the system of conspiracy to accountability. We must regain our power of self-determination and call the entire body of Christ to be the foot-washing servants to one another that Jesus called all his followers to be. Only then will the grace of forgiveness come to the brokenhearted body and make way for our continued journey into wholeness and the abundant life our loving creator intended for us, here and now.

Christina S. Abbey

Parish Nurse

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