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Shortage of Priests

November 06, 1998

The underlying point of "Priests Divide Their Time" (Oct. 31) is that the scarcity of priests has led to the loss of service to the faithful. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has reverted to the status of the California missions of the 19th century. Not mentioned, however, is that the dearth of priests has also caused millions of the faithful to have "fallen away." The 4 million nominative Catholics in L.A. who may remain are not well served, just as the millions who have drifted away over the last three decades through the lack of priests to minister to them were not.

Southern California has hundreds of priests who left the active priesthood to marry in the '60s and '70s who would be more than eager to return to the ministry they left as younger men, if they were invited. Eventually, the rule of celibacy will have to take second place to demands of the Gospel: Salus animarum suprema lex (the salvation of souls is the greatest law).

JOHN P. SHARKEY

Long Beach

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It's not only the "absolute requirement of celibacy" that's causing shortages of priests (Oct. 24), although that in itself points to the central problem. Cardinal Roger Mahony and your article fail to mention the obvious: There would be more priests if women could themselves be priests, not just priests' wives.

The Catholic Church is basically run by men who, unlike its founder, are frightened or distrustful of women. Men who aren't simply don't want to be part of that.

DAWN O'LEARY

Glendale

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