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Forgive Us, Father, for We Have Obfuscated

April 30, 2002

"Catholic Lite Won't Heal Those Wounds" (Commentary, April 26) has it all wrong. This is not a crisis of fidelity at all, as George Weigel insists. Laying the blame on three decades of wayward seminarians is a smoke screen at best. The real issue is the systematic, determined effort of the upper echelons of the Catholic hierarchy to coddle and shield those who engaged in immoral, criminal behavior and, in so doing, to perpetuate the problem.

The church's presumed effort (too little, too late) to find solutions to the crisis only serves to deflect attention from the evil complicity of arrogant, powerful and hypocritical men like Cardinal Bernard Law, who for years betrayed the victims--the very people they had a mandate to protect. This is the "crisis" the Vatican should be looking at.

John Crowther

Los Angeles

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With insightful clarity, Weigel addressed the grave misconceptions plaguing media coverage of this admittedly shameful scandal in our contemporary church and pointed out the critical distinction between pedophilia and sexual misconduct. He rightly attributes moral decline to the cultural epidemic of low moral expectations rather than to the more popular spin that too much self-control is a bad thing.

I hope that American Catholics especially take note of his inspired understanding of the role of celibacy in the priesthood. Trying to discuss the vow of celibacy with people who don't acknowledge the sanctity of a priest's union with Christ is like arguing abortion with people who simply don't believe that life begins at conception. There is no common ground for dialogue.

Peggy Normandin

Costa Mesa

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