Elizabeth Ann Murphy's response to Vice Chancellor Sean Caine's letter justifying the Archdiocese of Baltimore's response to allegations of child sexual abuse by John Merzbacher was revealing in its account of her own experience as a victim of such abuse ("Merzbacher victim: Archdiocese has much to answer for," Dec. 6).

We in the child advocacy community understand the long-term ramifications of this type of abuse. The hurt to the victim doesn't go away, and to justify any institution's reaction that does not fully embrace that concept is shameful.

The church has chosen to treat the offender as a sinner and offer redemption without recognizing the lifetime of spiritual loss for the victim that requires healing as well as compassion. Until the church endorses legislation to extend the statue of limitations on such child sexual abuse and strengthen the reporting requirements to hold officials accountable, the church will continue to contribute to this problem without in any way offering a solution that is worthy of the wrongdoing.

Since we live in a country that separates church and state, it is necessary for the church to treat child sexual abuse as a felony first and as a sin second. Ms. Murphy's letter shows how the church continues to avoid accountability and compassion for the victims. To name a playground after a church officials who looked the other way is beyond shameful, but it does suggest how far the church needs to go to right this wrong.

For an institution that teaches that the truth shall set you free, it is past time that the Archdiocese of Baltimore stopped rewriting history.

Patricia Ranney, Millersville

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