Was it fair to list accused priests?

SATURDAY MAILBOX

October 05, 2002

As a Catholic, I was deeply disturbed by the method chosen by Cardinal William H. Keeler to decide whose names should be included on the "sexual offender" list printed in The Sun ("Archdiocese's list of clergy accused of child sexual abuse," Sept. 26).

Apparently, Cardinal Keeler took it upon himself to determine whether the charges against these individuals were "credible." If so, the cardinal put the name on the list.

I have absolutely no problem with the cardinal releasing, and The Sun printing, the names of sexual predators who have been tried and convicted. In fact, I applaud such efforts.

But to release a list based on a standard that involves no due process or knowledge of how the information will be interpreted by the public or how it may permanently affect innocent lives demonstrates an arrogance that goes against the teachings of the church and further demonstrates the lack of leadership at the top of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.

Jim Gast

Timonium

After reading the long list of priests accused of sexual abuse I wonder, "Who will speak for the clergy?"

This is an unpopular cry today, when the emphasis is on the victims. And I, along with any priest worth his collar, share that concern and emphasis. But I also feel for the men who now have little support either from the public or their own institution.

Who removes the taint from a priest's name if he has been prematurely linked to a crime? Will The Sun print a front-page apology, with a picture of the cardinal shaking the priest's hand? Or will the suspicion and rumors persist?

There must be some middle ground. Our priests and bishops need to know clearly that the church will no longer wink at criminal behavior with a sigh and a prayer. The faithful need to keep some faith in the men they have trusted all along, but with an open mind and critical eye.

And Cardinal William H. Keeler needs to know that hanging his men out to dry and threatening them with public exposure at the very mention of impropriety is not just poor management, but absolutely unchristian.

Carolyn Matthews

Severn

I applaud the archbishop for being bold enough to serve the parishioners whose trust had been destroyed by the actions of these evil predators.

Clearly the way abusive priests were handled in the past was a mistake. The Catholic bishops have admitted this and sought to remedy the problem. And I have no respect for those complaining priests who criticize the way the archbishop has carried out this mission ("Priests upset by release of abuse list," Sept. 26).

Fathers, look into your own souls. Who among you looked the other way when colleagues were preying on the innocent?

Who among you knew or had suspicions about the abusers who were sharing your rectories and schools?

And how many of you stood up to be counted and to defend the children?

Susan Keller

Finksburg

The cardinal's action raises some serious questions.

The list includes some priests who have admitted guilt; some priests who have denied it (has their guilt been proved beyond doubt? If not, why are they on the list?); and some against whom the allegations cannot be corroborated (have the charges been dismissed for lack of evidence?).

And why are the names of deceased priests included? They have faced the ultimate judge; there is no need to throw this last stone.

And the list is not complete; it did not include the names of the bishops, archbishops and cardinals who have engaged in cover-ups and payoffs for 70 years. They, too, share in the guilt.

The priests have had their ministries stripped from them, and for the guilty ones, this was proper. Why have the bishops, archbishops and cardinals not been called to account for their part in covering up the crimes?

There is zero tolerance for a single abuse. Why isn't there zero tolerance for a single cover-up?

Connie Baker

Catonsville

When I was an altar boy in the 1950s, the priests we served were regarded as idols by the 50 or so altar boys who attended the Cathedral School.

Father Joseph Gallagher was coordinator of the altar boys during those years. And he was one of my heroes in early life, as he not only instructed us in Latin and in being in the right place at the right time while serving mass, but he also was instrumental in showing us the right way to mature into young adults.

Father Gallagher's contributions to the church and our community have been significant, and he remains someone to whom I owe a great debt.

For that reason, I am highly disappointed in the insensitive manner that Cardinal William H. Keeler has seen fit to publicize an issue of years ago that serves to embarrass not only Father Gallagher but other priests who have not been found guilty by a court of law.

Apparently, one of their mistakes was to expect understanding and forgiveness. But isn't that what our church is supposed to be about?

Edmond B. Nolley Jr.

Baltimore

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