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Troubles persist for church

July 19, 2007

Re "Cardinal goal was protecting Mahony," column, July 17

It is a mistake to think that Cardinal Roger M. Mahony is trying to protect himself. He is trying to protect his flock. If you are a Roman Catholic, you believe that the church is essential for salvation. Over the years, it has been clear to the Roman Catholic hierarchy that anything that undermines the confidence of the faithful in the church risks driving people away, thereby dooming them to hell. Therefore, the best thing to do about the misdeeds of priests is to cover them up. As the reasoning goes, the harm done to boys through molestation is far less than that through eternal damnation.

This runs entirely counter to the views of our modern secular society. Protestants don't have this problem because they do not believe that the church is essential for salvation. Roman Catholics are going to have to find a way out.

RORY JOHNSTON

Hollywood

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Re "No absolution yet," editorial, July 17

You mention the "vile offenses" of priests, but you don't broach the elephant-in-the- room issue of celibacy. Clearly, it doesn't work. There has to be a groundswell movement, from Catholic parishioners up, to do away with this inhumane practice.

Priests don't emerge from a vacuum; those growing up from the 1950s on have been exposed to a mass media culture with its pervasive "sex sells" mentality. I visited a Catholic monastery in Big Sur a few years ago and was impressed with its film library -- it looked like a small Blockbuster. Watching these movies was among the monks' favorite pastimes, one monk said. How can people be steeped in media entertainment and sexuality from childhood and then turn off their basic human needs and desires for their entire adult lives?

LAURA BROWN

San Gabriel

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The fear that the abuse scandal will gradually fade away is a real one. I'm sure that's what the church is counting on. My humble suggestion is this: As long as you may start running advertising on the front page, why not also reserve a little editorial box there that reports the progress or lack of progress on opening up church records? That way, it can't fade away.

BOB KLEIN

Malibu

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