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Bishops' Abuse Policy: Are They Truly Sorry?

June 18, 2002

Re "U.S. Bishops Adopt Policy on Sex Abuse," June 15: The policy adopted by the Catholic bishops is unacceptable. It is time for U.S. Atty. Gen. John Ashcroft to impanel a federal grand jury to investigate the American Roman Catholic Church for conspiracy to commit child molestation, conspiracy to harbor child molesters, aiding and abetting known criminals (priests who molest children) and conducting a pattern and practice of violating the civil rights of children in the church by allowing priests who molested children to continue.

Child abuse is a crime. For the priests to say it is OK for a priest to abuse one person without facing severe discipline is wrong. I cannot give my money to a church that condones child sexual abuse and child molestation. While I have not decided to leave the church altogether, I am definitely withholding my financial support, effective today.

Victoria B. Pipkin

Inglewood

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Like a song that you can't get off your mind, I keep replaying two themes as I read each day's iterations of sexual abuse instances in the Catholic Church: a wink-and-a-nod disingenuousness (e.g., Claude Rains' famous "I'm shocked, shocked" to hear that there's gambling going on at Rick's, from "Casablanca") and overwhelming amorality (e.g., the Germans after WWII who had "no idea" of what was going on in the neighboring concentration camps).

The church's hierarchy continues to appear primarily self-protecting, focused on forgiveness and redemption of its own while seemingly blind and/or unmoved by the suffering caused. However, the rest of the community understands that reportable crimes have been committed and covered up. Small wonder that so many, Catholics and non-Catholics, are deeply saddened and revolted by the church's response.

Christy Cowell

Los Angeles

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If a teacher is convicted of sexually abusing a student he will lose his teaching credential and will be prohibited from teaching for the rest of his life. Why should pedophile priests be treated any differently? The Catholic bishops' conference was analogous to suspected criminals running their own trial--choosing their own lawyers, judge and jury, plus voting for their own sentence of punishment.

Also, are the bishops truly sorry for sexual abuse victims or are they sorry that they were exposed by the news media?

Gilbert A. Rubio

San Diego

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