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December 20, 2004


The articles by Archbishop Harry Flynn and Thomas P. Rausch, S.J., (10/18), and Archbishop Francis Hurley’s letter (11/8), dealing with the one strike and you’re out approach to pedophile priests, clearly state many important considerations.

One not addressed is the culpability of any bishop or religious superior who, despite understanding that there is a significant degree of recidivism among pedophiles, regardless of the quality of treatment, returns a pedophile priest to active ministry.

If that reinstated priest commits another act of pedophilia, then the bishop or superior is the proximate cause of a grave sin and is also guilty of a grave sin. Sanctions similar to those proposed by some for proximate cause pro-choice politicians might be an appropriate response.

Likewise, an act of pedophilia is statutory rape in criminal law. The bishop or superior should be considered an accomplice before the fact, subject to civil action for that felony.

Eugene Bova
Overland Park, Kan.

Peace With Justice

I applaud the editorial Exit From Hell (10/25) as a small step toward a peace with justice. In an annual report issued on Oct. 28 to the United Nations General Assembly, the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, Jean Ziegler, underlined the humanitarian tragedy affecting 3.8 million Palestinians. Twenty-two per cent of Palestinian children are permanently malnourished. Eighty-five percent of the water in Palestinian aquifers has been diverted to illegal Israeli colonies, in contravention of the Geneva Convention. The construction of the security barrier continues, destroying hundreds of arable, Palestinian-owned acres.

On Oct. 1 Pax Christi Aotearoa/New Zealand endorsed the recent call by the Anglican Peace and Justice Networks and the Presbyterian Church of the United States for divestment in Israel modeled on the popular boycott of apartheid South Africa. The president of Pax Christi International, His Beatitude Michel Sabbah, the Latin patriarch of Jerusalem, constantly reminds us of the suffering of his fellow Palestinians.

We need to hear more from the many Jewish peace groups inside Israel and throughout the world who separate their Jewish heritage from the unethical actions of the nation-state of Israel. It is because of the ethical beliefs of their Jewish heritage that they condemn the denial of basic human rights to Palestinians by the nation-state.

We also need to remember the diminishing number of Christian Palestinians still living in the Holy Land.

Benjamin J. Urmston, S.J.
Cincinnati, Ohio

Politically Conscious

The need voiced by Rabbi Michael Lerner in Needed: A New Spiritual Left (11/29) could not have hit me harder. As a spiritual and politically conscious young Catholic, I actively worked with the Duke University chapter of College Democrats for a Kerry win. While the new voters had been portrayed as apathetic and were reached out to in this election with values supposedly tailored to their interestscollege tuition, employment after college, civil liberties and the warI still felt that something was lacking. But I couldn’t figure out what. It did not hit me until I read this article. The Democratic Party is based on ideals of social justice and pluralism, but its efforts to be politically correct at times fail to reach out to what people base their politics on: their spiritual beliefs and love for their neighbors. These core beliefs reach across party lines, and when candidates are analyzed according to their social teachings, then a new dimension will be brought to politics. Catholics will not feel that they have to make a choice between abortion or health care, morals or the economy. This article expressed that beautifully.

Ana Consuelo Martinez
Durham, N.C.

Ecumenical Achievements

Let me commend your editorial Toward Visible Unity (11/8) and the emphasis given to the ecumenical achievements over the past 40 years. Such success could not have occurred without the firm commitment of Pope John Paul II, who has made ecumenism a priority throughout his pontificate. Since prayer is the soul of the ecumenical movement, I do believe the annual week of prayer for Christian unity has been and must continue to be a contributing factor to further ecumenical success.

Damian MacPherson, S.A.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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