I am writing to defend the reputation of the late Jesuit priest, Robert B. Cullen. According to a story in The Sun, Father Cullen is alleged to have abused a child during his tenure at Loyola Blakefield from 1952 to 2002 (“Maryland Jesuits release list of about 30 men 'credibly accused' of sexual abuse of children,” Dec. 17).
I have no knowledge of the alleged offense or offenses in this situation. No details were included in the story. But I am dismayed to see Father Cullen placed in the disgraceful category of child abuser because Jesuit officials have concluded there was a “reasonable possibility" that he committed the alleged offense.
This strikes me as an absurdly flimsy basis for such a terribly damaging blow to the reputation of a man whom my classmates and I respect for his integrity and dedication to his responsibilities as our guidance counselor.
Whenever any of us needed help through the tumult and confusion of adolescence, or through the stresses of a competitive academic environment, Father Cullen was there. He prodded us, encouraged us, challenged us to persevere, to have faith in ourselves and in each other, to honor the Jesuit motto: "Men for Others." We will never forget him. That is why it is so painful to see his memory tarnished because of what appears to be a reckless, ill-advised effort to show a commitment to accountability.
The American people have become familiar with the seemingly endless reports of cover-ups by arrogant, insulated church leaders who failed either to protect the victims of predatory priests or to punish the predators. The seeming indifference of Jesuit leaders to the damage inflicted by this reckless new standard adds another layer of frustration. I expect more from the Jesuits, in part because I learned so much from Father Cullen.
Jerry Kammer, State College, Pa.