Sharing outrage on behalf of abused children, former priest Mike Rivage-Seul has written what amounts to the anti-Catholic screed of a disgruntled ex-employee ("NCAA penalties should apply to Vatican, too," Aug. 5).
By the end of his essay, gone are any references to children whatsoever.
Rather, he opines: Sister Pat Farrell and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious are "unimpeachable." Women should be allowed to become priests. Priests should be allowed to marry.
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This divergence from his argument reveals an agenda.
First, let the record show that Farrell and the leadership conference enjoyed ample due process in their four-year long, systematic assessment by the Vatican, which found many conference programs to be mired in "doctrinal confusion" and "contrary to the faith and practice of the Church."
Second, Catholic priests are married — as Christ is to the church. To call for a non-celibate priesthood is to argue that a man can serve two masters. Moreover, such a plea insults both men and women.Because it says, in effect, man cannot find fulfillment in non-sexual self-giving, and therefore since man cannot be chaste, let him have at woman (as if sexual drives cannot be mastered).
Rivage-Seul might have more credibility if he had expressed outrage over endemic pornography in America, the sexualization of youth (and trivialization of sex) by magazines and movies, or the sex-related abuse of more than 1 million children who are killed each year by elective abortion.
Criticize inside the church
I have read two fairly recent critiques of the Catholic Church in the Herald Leader; the Aug. 5 column was especially mean-spirited. I do not think I am especially qualified to address criticism, except to say that I joined the Catholic Church in 1981 and have remained faithful to it. I love the church without condoning its various sins as deeply as I loved my parents without embracing their faults when I saw them.
Having said that, I would point to the section in Karen Kilby's excellent book, Karl Rahner: a Brief Introduction, in which this Catholic theologian argues that Catholics who love the church for what it is and what it stands for in this fallen world actually have an obligation to criticize the church. After all, he argues, much like St. Augustine in The City of God, the church is not only eternal in the supernatural realm, that is, the body of Christ, but it is also composed of members, like myself, who are sinful and fallen creatures, also in need of reform.
Rahner goes on to make a distinction between criticism outside the church and criticism inside the church. He is most concerned with supporting and identifying the best attitude to have for those critics inside the church, an attitude not found in the Herald-Leaders essays.
Letter length and, probably, copyright laws prevent me from briefly quoting Rahner, though Kilby's book is an excellent short introduction to this important Catholic Christian theologian.
L. Eugene Startzman
Too much abuse ignored
In response to the column, "NCAA penalties should apply to Vatican, too" written by Mike Rivage-Seul: I agree with every point and recommendation the former priest makes.
I remain livid and sickened by how the church hid thousands of these vile, evil incidents for so many years. It's simply beyond comprehension that human beings could hurt children that way and then count on their superiors to cover for them. It happened many times at the elementary school I attended and the monsignor there was finally sent to prison.
I quickly learned to dread report-card time there. The monsignor would come to the classroom, sit at the teacher's desk and would call each child to join him there individually. As we approached, he would bring us close to his side.
While he reviewed report cards with us, he wrapped one arm around the girls' thighs, underneath their uniform skirts. We were innocent children; we didn't know we could protest being touched that way. Much, much worse things happened to other children there. I was fortunate in that I only had to endure the "report card/thighs review."
The final slap in the face is that the church is going through the process to make the pope during that time a saint. I have no words to describe how I feel about that.
For family and friends who attend a Catholic church or school, I hope they are good places filled with good people. I hope you understand why I had to leave.
M. Claire Sale