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When Priests Go Bad, Church Suffers Too

August 15, 1993

Re Robin Abcarian's column on priests who commit sexual abuse ("A Case of Don't-Blame-Me Is Sweeping the Vatican," July 25): Abcarian reminds me so much of me when I was a teen-ager--a great love of justice, a hatred of hypocrisy and the ability to see everything in black and white. I hope I still possess the first two qualities, but I am grateful that I have learned that the world is full of gray areas.

She states that 400 American priests have committed sexual abuse and uses that figure to say that the problem is "acute." But only the day before, The Times ran an article saying there are 21,000 American priests. We are discussing less than 2% of American priests.

I think that Abcarian's love for the victims of abuse is wonderful, and I share it. But I also have a love for the perpetrators.

Before she thinks this is a Catholic bias of mine, she should know that I feel the same way about rapists, and I am a victim of rape.

These people deserve punishment, yes, but they also deserve help.

LISA KIJEK

Downey

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If Robin Abcarian were correct about priestly celibacy causing pedophilia and illicit sexual affairs, then one would expect to see a lower per capita incidence of child molestation and adultery among the non-celibate general population.

As this is not the case, Abcarian is wrong in denying Pope John Paul II's statement that the media have sensationalized sexual abuses of the clergy.

JOHN SAWOSKI

Los Angeles

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If the Catholic Church is guilty when priests go bad, who do we blame when doctors, teachers, janitors, barbers and candlestick makers molest children or abuse women? I am constantly reminded by people like Abcarian that there is indeed only one politically correct target left in our sensitive world--the Catholic Church.

ELAINE FRANCIS

Spring Valley

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Abcarian suggests that by making out-of-court settlements the church is sweeping the matter under the table. That is one manner of looking at the problem. Another is that the church is highly saddened by the pain caused to the affected individuals and is attempting to speed the healing process.

I do not believe Pope John Paul II or his spokesperson is trying to hide or cover up anything. Priests, like everyone else, are not perfect. It is very difficult to keep one's vows in light of all the temptation today.

The Holy Father's suggestion of prayer, to my way of thinking, is a good start. A bit of compassion on the part of Church critics is another way to put this terrible experience behind us.

MARSHALL KLINE

Los Angeles

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