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A Priest Who Is Joyful, Candid and Kind

June 25, 2002

Thank you so much for your June 22 story by Mary McNamara about Msgr. David O'Connell, who lives the life of a good and hard-working priest. I didn't realize how much I needed a story like that until I took it in along with my morning coffee.

For weeks now, I have avoided going to Mass. I would intend to go and then a fatigue of body, mind and spirit would send me back to bed on Sunday morning. An image would confront me of a priest offering me the Eucharist with the same hands that did terrible things to a child, an adolescent or a vulnerable person of any age. A good image has driven out the bad image now, and I can think of priestly hands comforting the sick, the bereaved or the outcast and celebrating Mass with a clean spirit and joy in Christ's gift to us.

Jackie Bond

Oceanside

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Thanks so much for your article pointing out the fact that there are more than 46,000 Catholic priests in this country who strive to fulfill their duties. Congratulations to Msgr. O'Connell on his 23rd anniversary. As a Catholic I have known many priests like O'Connell.

Ann Walker

Northridge

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O'Connell does what many (most) of us struggle with: making a commitment to a life of service and finding a joy and peace in giving of oneself.

I especially enjoyed his fearless comments about how the inclusion of women in the church hierarchy would solve what the imbalance of power has wrought.

And the monsignor was right when he said: "If there had been some parents in there running things, none of this would ever have happened."

His candor reminded me of that famous saying that absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Maureen Conn

Altadena

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I am troubled by Article 16 of the U.S. Catholic bishops' Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which begins: "Given problem of the sexual abuse of minors in our society...." This gives the impression that what happened with the Catholic Church is a mirror of our society. There is a vast difference between sexual abuse under the color of God and the priesthood and sexual abuse by nonpriests. In the former, the young victim is intimidated by a messenger of God, in the latter the victim is intimidated by just an adult.

This is why police are severely dealt with if an officer takes sexual advantage of an individual under the color of authority.

Richard Lewis

Palm Desert

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Re "Mahony Asks Forgiveness for Handling of Scandal," June 24: Cardinal Roger Mahony's apology rang hollow for me. It just looked and sounded too scripted.

Why was the apology delivered at St. Charles Borromeo Church? Could he not have gone and randomly pick a parish church, maybe even a parish that housed priests who had perpetrated these abuses? Don't get me wrong, an apology is always in order, and forgiveness is of paramount importance in all religions. I just don't like it when the apology is cloaked in a public-relations mantle.

Cecelia Kennelly-Waeschle

Malibu

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