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The Church Must Seek Justice and Forgiveness

April 25, 2002

I can't believe that Cardinal Bernard Law still thinks that he did the "right" thing by covering up some of the identified sex abusers and refuses to resign ("Key U.S. Clerics Plan to Push for Law's Removal," April 22). How will the Catholic Church get this scandal under control if the people who did wrong are still inside the church?

As a Catholic I can accept the mistakes of those abusers and maybe even forgive them, but they have to be punished, not moved around in society as if they didn't do anything wrong.

And of all the people, the bishop, as one of the higher rank in the church, should know what is right and what is wrong. The parishioners need church officials whom they can trust and look up to as role models. I think the biggest problem with this scandal is the cover-up, which makes the church a haven for these sex abusers. This has to stop.

Vicky Fong

Los Angeles

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Re "Anger Greets Church Picketers," April 22: Mary Grant, a lead protester and survivor of a priest's molestation, correctly states, "Sadly, this has been the posture of the church . . . to treat us as the enemy. If they blame the victim, then they don't have to take responsibility." I would go one step further and say that a huge number of churchgoers don't take responsibility for many things in their lives precisely because they don't have to; because they believe in some outside deity. As an agnostic, I do my best to take responsibility and be accountable for all of my actions.

Paul Harris

San Diego

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I found your April 23 article, "U.S. Catholics and Vatican Face a Cultural Chasm," to be on the mark. As a practicing Catholic I would like to make these observations. A priest who engages in child abuse or child seduction is guilty of a crime as defined by our society, and as a member of this society is answerable for his actions. A priest who violates his vows by engaging in an affair either heterosexual or homosexual with a consenting adult has not broken any civil laws and may be subject to church discipline but not criminal prosecution. The Catholic Church must be able to treat these two actions separately.

As a former public school teacher I was obliged by law to report immediately any suspected incident of child abuse to the civil authorities; i.e., child protective services, law enforcement officials, etc. Church members who are responsible for the spiritual growth of children must do the same.

Perry DiMassa

San Pedro

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