Not Deterred

The article Guatemala’s Violent Peace, by Robert B. Gilbert, (3/25) must have tugged at the heart of every New York Sister of Charity as we recall with sorrow the assassination of our sister, Barbara Ann Ford, on May 5 of last year.

Barbara had served the poor of Guatemala for almost 20 years as a nurse and trained counselor when she was fatally shot by someone determined to steal her vehicle.


Your graphic piece leaves one appalled at the level of cruelty people are capable of when they inflict such horror on others for an economic, social or racial pretext.

The situation in Guatemala described in the article ranks right up there with the malice of the terrorism we experienced here on Sept. 11. By the grace of God, it has not deterred the five remaining Sisters of Charity who continue working among the Guatemalan people.

Yolanda De Mola, S.C.
Bronx, N.Y.


America comes to us as a gift from friends. We read it word for word, talk about the articles and then pass it on for others, mostly lay people, to read. We cannot do that with the April 1 edition. I would be embarrassed to do that, especially given the fact that you published a piece by Anonymous. Most intelligent people disregard anonymous letters (stories). I am surprised at you and greatly disappointed that you would permit that personal view to diminish the quality of your magazine.

Patricia A. Henschel, O.P.
Carmichael, Calif.

Growing Disgust

I sat down and read the entire April 1 issue of America with growing disgust. This issue, Sexual Abuse by the Clergy, was no more than a disingenuous attempt to distance homosexuality from the crisis. The crisis is homosexual pedophilia.

Don’t let yourselves be controlled by the gay rights movement, psychologists and sociologists who attempt to portray this type of pedophilia as disconnected from homosexuality. All of the abuses committed by the priests have been with minors who are male, most who are not pre-puberty. These abusive priests obviously cannot control their perversions and are committing homosexual acts.

Nowhere stated in your issue were the clear and authoritative teachings of the church regarding homosexual acts. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: Basing itself on Sacred Scripture, which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered.’ ...Under no circumstances can they be approved (No. 2357).

As people of God called to holiness, guided by the Holy Spirit and motivated by love, the church must protect our youngsters and rid itself of these criminals. Those proven guilty should be sent to prison, where justice can be served and where they can get the counseling their sympathizers say they need.

Gary Dombrowski
Wauwatosa, Wis.

Rebuilding Confidence

I read with great interest your special issue on the church crisis (4/1). I hope you’re going to keep up regular coverage of this topic. It is not going away, and the best way to deal with it is to face it straight on. I was particularly impressed with your editorial recommendation to bring the laity more into the handling of cases. That is absolutely correct. Unfortunately, one of the casualties of this scandal is the credibility of the church establishment. It has been devastated, and it may be decades before the old level of credibility returns. Bringing independent lay people into the church’s handling of these sensitive issues would be a good first step toward rebuilding confidence.

George M. Taber
Princeton, N.J.

Similar Recommendation

While you are recommending to the bishops in your editorial, Healing and Credibility (4/1), that they need an independent lay board in each diocese empowered to investigate every allegation against a priest or church employee, you might also make a similar recommendation to the major superiors of religious communities, including the U.S. Jesuit provincials. I know of no Jesuit province with this practice. Do you?

Joseph S. Costantino, S.J.
Manhasset, N.Y.


Amid premature cries for healing and forgiveness, confusion regarding sin, sickness and sexual orientation and emotions running the gamut, a practical voice is heard! Banns for bishops (Letters, 3/21), a preventative measure suggested by James Gelson, S.J., might just be part of the solution to a very big problem. Let the powers that be listen. Surely such a practice would open the doors to the light and air, about which Father Gelson speaks, that are so desperately needed in our church.

Cheryl Sansone
Boynton Beach, Fla.


Curtis Bryant, S.J., in Psychological Treatment of Priest Sex Offenders (4/1), is dead wrong in two of his views. He fails to acknowledge that sexual molestation of minors is a crime, and must be dealt with as such, when he writes that to send people who seek treatment for their sexual disorders to the criminal justice system is ineffective and inhumane. Second, the zero-tolerance policy that he excoriates is the only policy that will ever restore any semblance of trust within the church. Even one proven act of sexual molestation of a minor by a priest should be automatic grounds for an immediate defrocking of that priest.

Katherine S. Batts
Diablo, Calif.

Craven and Cowed

Secrecy and anonymity have been a major factor fueling this clerical pedophilia scandal. Why in God’s holy name would America (4/1) publish a chillingly detailed account of an unnamed pedophile by Anonymous? The secular press is naming names and signing articles. Can’t America do the same? Where are the prophets in our church? Craven and cowed by corporate lawyers?

Daniel C. O’Rourke
Cassadaga, N.Y.

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