Advertisement
Readers Respond

A history of abuse and cover-up within Maryland’s Catholic Church | READER COMMENTARY

Jean Hargadon Wehner (center) is comforted by her sister-in-law Val Kuciauskas and brother Ed K. Hargadon after speaking at a news conference by abuse survivors and advocates who are part of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. SNAP is demanding that the Baltimore archdiocese support public release of Attorney General’s report detailing 80 years of sexual abuse. (Jerry Jackson/Baltimore Sun)

Baltimore Archdiocese should cover ‘Keepers’ court costs, too

After reading that the heroes of “The Keepers” are pursuing release of the attorney general’s report on sexual abuse by clergy and others of the Baltimore Catholic Archdiocese and elsewhere in Maryland, I got to wondering: If the Baltimore Archdiocese supports both the release of the report AND the right of people named in the report but not accused of abuse to “participate in the legal process,” perhaps the archdiocese should ALSO assist in paying the legal fees for Teresa Lancaster and Jean Wehner. (”‘Keepers’ survivors expand arguments on why Maryland AG report into Catholic clergy sexual abuse should be public,” Dec. 2.)

— Frank A. Vitrano, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware

Advertisement

Open letter to Archbishop Lori

Your excellency:

I dare to write to you once again because you answered my previous letter concerning my friend Jean Wehner and the Archdiocese’s response to “The Keepers.”

Advertisement

I was naively relieved when I saw that the Archdiocese was not opposing the release of the grand jury report. “Naive” because when an article appeared about a group that was opposing the release of the report and my husband said ‘I bet the archdiocese is paying their attorney fees,’ I said “that’s ridiculous.” Frankly, I could not fathom it, particularly after your Nov. 17 letter stating that the report would raise questions “about the Church’s commitment to transparency.” How wrong I was (”Baltimore archdiocese paying attorney costs for members of group seeking to seal court proceedings in clergy abuse investigation,” Nov. 28).

I cannot see how the Church is being “transparent” by stating it is not opposing the release of the report while it “secretly” pays the attorney fees of others to oppose its release.

— Evelyn Cannon, Baltimore

Church must acknowledge abuse, and lance it like a festering sore

As a member of the Catholic Church, I firmly believe the report on sexual abuse by clergy and the cover-up by the Church, compiled by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office, should be released to the public (“Anonymous group seeks to hide all court proceedings in Maryland AG investigation of Catholic abuse,” 22 Nov). To try to hide it will only cause the Church more pain in the long run. The abuse is well known throughout the world and remains a festering sore on the character of the Catholic Church. And like a festering sore, it should be lanced, letting the bad blood and pus drain. Only then can you have full recovery from the sore. Attempts to keep it hidden will only result in the sore continuing to fester with no healing in sight.

Stas Chrzanowski, Baltimore

It’s time for the Catholic Church to slay the monster

Recently, The Baltimore Sun has published a number of articles and letters to the editor concerning rampant sexual abuse by Catholic priests and other in the Baltimore Archdiocese and elsewhere in Maryland over many decades. And as Dan Rodricks expressed in a recent Sunday column, “Catholic Church apologized and paid damages for decades of abuse — but what has changed?” (Nov. 23), I, too, am a lifelong Catholic, and — with him and countless other Catholics — am “sick” about the findings contained in Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh’s recent report.

This disgraceful scandal continues to erode not just the credibility but the mission of the church so many of us know and love. I concur with Dan’s belief that in these turbulent times in our dangerous and violent world — and with the chronic shortage of faithful and committed priests to minister to many parishes with so many empty pews — radical change in the spirit of Vatican II is absolutely essential and long overdue.

But I would also like to add to his commentary.

Advertisement

First, a personal note: I spent a number of youthful years studying for the priesthood in a religious order. Among us seminarians was a group of Canadian Ukrainian rite seminarians who, because they were also members of the same religious order, were therefore under a vow of celibacy. We south of the Canadian border guys used to tease them about their choice to become religious priests rather than, in their own rite, to keep the option of marriage open. The typical response: Not your business!

And a historical note: My seminary entrance class in the 1960s consisted of about 70 candidates, of whom 13 completed training and were ordained as priests. Today none of the seminary campuses I attended exist, and candidates for entry into the religious order are very few. And I have lost count of the number of priests who educated and mentored me, and also contemporaries who were ordained and ministered in foreign countries and in parishes from Boston to the Carolinas, who have left the priesthood and are now married, furthering the shortage within the church.

This is where change begins. The “Ordinariate” within the Catholic Church consists of formal Episcopal priests and Lutheran ministers who have recently come into formal union with the Catholic Church, and can retain their traditions, including marriage. The pastor at my brother’s church in Eldersburg is an Ordinariate priest whose wife and family occupy a front pew at Sunday Mass. In addition to this new tradition, the Catholic Church has recognized and is in union with many Eastern rite traditions — the Ukrainian, Maronite and Coptic — to name just a few, all of which allow married clergy.

The Church should at long last end the dichotomy and offer the same option of marriage to its Roman rite priests who are not members of religious order as it does for the Eastern rites and the Ordinariate priests. And there is historic justification; mandated celibacy for priests was instituted only about a thousand years after Jesus walked the Earth, and primarily for economic reasons.

And as equally important, the Church should recognize the wisdom and experience of the other half of the human race by admitting women to ministry, beginning with the diaconate and ultimately the priesthood. For far too long the Church has relied on faithful and dedicated women parishioners to do much of the behind the scenes “heavy lifting” to keep the myriad tasks of parish life in working order. It is past time to recognize their “other” God-given talents and skills, so that the faithful can hear and benefit from their proclamation of the Gospel from the high pulpits of Catholic Churches around dioceses, the country, and the world.

I also heartily concur with Dan’s belief that, hopefully in God’s good time, the Catholic Church will stop the bleeding and slay the monster that compromises its mission and undermines its authority and credibility.

Advertisement

— Richard Wachter, Baltimore


Advertisement