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Vatican Rejects Abuse Policy

October 26, 2002

Re "Vatican to Reject Parts of U.S. Bishops' Abuse Policy," Oct. 18: I can't help being amazed at the words of the spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, who proclaimed to the whole city and world that this archdiocese will not, in any way, be affected by the latest decisions emanating from Rome regarding the Dallas policies adopted by the U.S. bishops. Has Cardinal Roger Mahony forgotten the words of the second Vatican Council that explicitly state that the Roman pontiff has full, supreme and universal power over the church? Am I wrong to presume that the Los Angeles Archdiocese is a part of the universal church, not an independent church that can do as it pleases?

As an informed Roman Catholic, I am fully aware that a bishop governs, teaches and sanctifies in union with the supreme pontiff, not in opposition to him or the Holy See. At least on this particular issue, I will obey and support the bishop of Rome, not my archbishop, who is now implementing some policies that the Holy See has found defective and in violation of canon law. We are not Donatists, we are Catholic!

Many innocent priests have not been given due process at the same time that some bishops, like our cardinal, who are part of the problem, refuse to step down because of an arrogant attitude that flies in the face of the virtue of humility.

The whole idea of forgiveness and redemption was forgotten in Dallas, and the Holy See is only trying to correct the failure to acknowledge the implementation of elemental biblical teaching in the policies adopted in June by our American bishops.

Antonio A. Badilla

Simi Valley

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Where are the new rules for face-to-face confessions, training altar servers, taking children on outings or even calling a child out of class or church? Until the elitist culture that places the priest at the pinnacle of unquestioned authority is replaced by concrete laws, rules and regulations, Catholic society will continue to chase predators after the crimes are committed and the children are damaged. It is not the rule of men but the rule of law that must control.

John R. Shiban

Westlake Village

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Catholics are polled, priests are polled, questions are asked about sexual orientation and about the "one strike and you're out" policy for clerical abusers, but one thing at least seems clear to this Catholic. The relation of the clergy to the laity resembles the old adage about "the blind leading the blind." Liberal Catholics still pretend that the crisis in the church is about pedophiles even though most of the victims of abuse are adolescents, not children. Liberals cannot -- for politically correct reasons -- admit that homosexuals in the church are the abusers of the young.

Conservatives pretend that celibacy is not the issue here, even though it is obvious that celibacy encourages priestly careers for sexually deviant men and discourages them for sexually normal men. They cannot admit that a nonbiblical policy that has existed for a thousand years can be wrong in a church that pretends infallibility. Will anyone trust these people again?

Norman Ravitch

Savannah, Ga.

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Re "Most Priests Say Bishops Mishandled Abuse Issue," Oct. 20: Why don't you interview those who were abused by priests on how we think the bishops and the church are handling things? You can start with me. There is deep-seated anger here too.

Mary Ferrell

Lakewood

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Perhaps it would serve the younger Roman Catholic priests better if, rather than returning to conservative values, they returned to the values of Jesus.

In your Oct. 21 article, you report that the younger men entering the priesthood have "more certainty" about the sinfulness of homosexuality, abortion and contraceptives. This is not a comforting thought.

Jesus had nothing negative to say about gay people, abortion or contraception. He certainly didn't forbid loving gay relationships, freely chosen abortions or the prudent use of contraceptives.

Ray Shelton

Glendale

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