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Canon Law Does Not Replace Law of the Land

November 14, 2002

Re "Bishops Change Tone on Abuse," Nov. 12: During medieval times, the Roman Catholic Church was an independent power. The pope's Vatican was a large nation and his cardinals were treated as ambassadors of a foreign state. Bishops had their own princely domains. Even the local parish priest was immune from trial in civil and criminal courts. Today, the pope is trying to revive feudalism by insisting that priests who sexually molest children be handled according to his canon law rather than according to our government's criminal and civil laws. Now that American bishops have endorsed the pope's demands, justice for the victims will be found only if the crimes are immediately reported directly to the police and not to the church.

David E. Ross

Oak Park

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After more than a year of meetings among the Catholic hierarchy, investigations regarding the use of canon law and concern for saving the reputations of priest offenders, the bottom line remains: Wearing a Roman collar does not excuse a sex offender. The law of the land reaches out to all, whether it mars their reputations or not.

Pat Ostrye

Monrovia

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