Week of September 15, 2004

Once again, congratulations on this information and don't let up exposing the criminal activities of this man. He is in the words of the times "an extremist," but his views are distorted and to effectuate his desires, he twists the meaning of the rules of the church to meet his end results. I hope this article will help divert his attentions from St. Stans.
Frank Medved
De Soto

The cold dead heart of the church: My compliments to the Riverfront Times and especially to Malcolm Gay for his extremely well-written and informative piece, which exposes, in graphic detail, the "deficiencies," not only among the hierarchy of the Diocese of La Crosse, but in the Wisconsin state house as well.

I do however, disagree with Peter Isely's statement that "[l]oyalty to the church is of the highest order" for these men, whom I prefer to call the anointed yet tarnished princes of the church. From East Coast to West Coast, and everywhere in between, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States are only concerned with the loyalty they owe to themselves and to each other. These lofty positions to which they have risen and the power that comes with those positions have made them lose sight of why they entered into holy orders in the first place: to serve God, to serve His people, to serve His church. There is no love of God or fellowship of the Holy Spirit present in their treatment of these brokenhearted, broken-spirited children of the church who have been raped in body, mind and soul. In truth, these "men of God" have only proven how cold and dead the heart of Holy Mother Church really is.

Anyone who has read the Report of the National Review Board is aware of that now-famous quote: "The smoke of Satan was allowed to enter the Church." With this quote in mind, we can only wonder: What master does the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church really serve? Can the church be saved? Do the laity have strength and courage enough to take back their church?

Time, as they say, will tell.
Victoria Martin
Santa Monica, California

More on Mason: I was a member of the Roncalli Newman Center when Jim Mason joined us. We found out about his "ways" through the media when he was charged with third-degree sexual assault. Truly a sorry time. I am happy to see this in print.

He was a troublesome man and I can't believe he is still on the La Crosse Diocesan payroll. 'Tis a pity. This man was charming and smart but got to be a very disturbed man. I hope he is kept away or stays away from underage or vulnerable people. Thanks for listening.
Sarah Hundt
La Crosse, Wisconsin

Scapegoating the Catholics: I am greatly saddened by the crimes committed by those priests of the Catholic Church, and I believe that such wrongdoings, when substantiated, should result in ecclesiastical, civil or even criminal punishment.

What perplexes me is that recent allegations of similar sexual abuse in our nation's public schools have been practically ignored, while we have experienced several years of intensive scrutinization of Catholic clergy abuse. The Shakeshaft report on public-school sexual abuse estimated that approximately 4.5 million children in eighth to eleventh grade in the year 2000 had experienced sexual harassment or abuse by school workers. In contrast, the National Review Board report on child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy reported 10,667 individuals alleging abuse by ordained clergy during the 53-year period from 1950 to 2002 (17.2 percent also said they had siblings who were also abused). Both reports included incidents ranging from inappropriate touching and sexual language to statutory rape.

The difference in absolute numbers between the two reports, both issued this year, is staggering. Even if the public schools' figures are wildly exaggerated, and if the Catholic numbers are far higher than reported, the public schools seem to have a much higher incidence of sexual abuse than the Catholic Church.

The real difference in interest in these two reports is due to an impression of hypocrisy in the Catholic Church. The Catholic clergy are assumed to affect an image of holiness and to promote an impossible standard of conduct, while the public schools are assumed to be progressing toward an ideal of openness to universal sexual expression. In other words, the alleged sexual behavior is unbecoming to a Catholic, while the same behavior is admired, at least in some circles, by the secular world. This is then a secular examination of Catholicism by Catholic standards, and not by the standards of the secular world -- which I consider unfair, even though I must admit it is very effective.

Archbishop Burke is a lawyer by training and is acting like the chief lawyer of any large organization would do in similar circumstances. Punitive lawsuits are so potentially destructive to any organization that a certain measure of secrecy is prudent; corporations, governments, and academic institutions are also secretive. Perhaps doing the right thing -- even though it means total worldly loss -- is heroically virtuous, but the church does not require such heroism of its members.

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