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Franciscan Sex Scandal

December 10, 1993

* In response to "Seminary's 'Terrible Truths' Are Detailed," Dec. 1:

Sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is no different from that which occurs elsewhere in society; it did not suddenly increase with Vatican II and hedonism in America.

Women served as priests in the first centuries of the Christian church. They deserve to serve again at a time when the priesthood in America is suffering from a lack of qualified candidates.

And Cardinal Ratzinger, Pope John Paul's resident theologian, should vacate his office to a candidate with more knowledge of scriptural scholarship, in order that the church promulgate more spiritually accurate information about human sexuality both within and outside of marriage.



* Where was the outrage and revulsion that should have been expressed in your Dec. 1 editorial about 11 Roman Catholic priests preying on 34 male children over a span of 23 years? Do you dare not offend Christian subscribers? Betrayed youngsters, ages 7 to 16, were used to satiate the carnal lusts of men posing as trustworthy representatives of God/Jesus. Yet The Times utters not one word of condemnation or anger. Nor does it write of any grief for the victims, whose lives have surely been altered forever.

No, instead, The Times incredibly opts to lament as "innocent victims" priests who haven't abused children. The Times goes on to cite author Jason Berry, who blames clerical sexual abuse on our "hedonistic culture." Absolutely no blame allowed to grace its editorial for the church whose policies incubate such loathsome actions or for the robed abusers who commit these ghastly acts.

This editorial, and its implication that religionists hold sway over a supposedly free objective press, sickens me more than the vile crimes and their pseudo-saintly perpetrators.



* The Times is to be commended for its sensitive and perceptive Dec. 1 coverage of the Franciscan scandal in Santa Barbara.

The article pointed up the admirable courage of the Franciscans in going public with the story, and their determination is demonstrated by the fact that their six-member board of inquiry was composed of five outsiders and only one member of the order.

While the shocking, sickening revelations at the Franciscan seminary cannot be dismissed, it is sad to anticipate that hundreds of innocent, dedicated and--yes--holy Franciscans will suffer from the scandal for years to come.

Collectively and individually, the friars will need all of the support of those theyhave served, those they continue to serve, their brothers in other orders and other clergy.


Huntington Beach

* As a former student at St. Anthony's, I can unequivocally state that my experiences there were both positive and fruitful. I applaud the efforts of those in the media to "get at the truth." As a Christian I know the truth can only set us free! But I also ask that you get at the "whole" truth. The vast majority of friars are men of God. Their goal is to selflessly serve others. I believe that under closer observation even non-Christians will conclude that the Franciscan friars are overwhelmingly invaluable in their service to humankind!



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