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October 31, 2005

Restorative Justice

Reading Of Many Things by George M. Anderson, S.J., in the October 10 issue was an uplifting and enjoyable experience. Not only was the human success story of José in overcoming his past problems and bad experiences heartwarming; it also offered a good example of peacemaking/humanistic criminology in action. Here we see restorative justice in living form.

I currently teach two undergraduate sections of Probation and Parole: Theory and Practice and will bring this piece to the attention of my students to demonstrate not only the moral philosophical aspect of this component of American corrections, but also the positive and uplifting attitude of José’s parole officer, who, when his client stumbled, did not initiate a revocation procedure but reached out to him saying, I’ll work with you.

Truly, with such stories as this, there is hope for our criminal justice system.

James J. Green
Sparkill, N.Y.

Scant Mention

You did your readers a disservice by scant mention in Signs of the Times (10/10) of the report of the three-year investigation by a grand jury in Philadelphia into sexual abuse and its coverup in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. You gave no specifics about this report; more space was given to the archdiocese’s pathetic response.

The public deserves to know the shocking facts uncovered in this extensive investigation, which lead to the clear conclusion that the handling of sexual abuse by the hierarchy and the archdiocese was at least as immoral as the abuse itself. That is a most serious allegation.

An informed church will come to demand a restructuring of church leadership that will function appropriately in today’s world without secrecy, arrogance and the vestiges and privileges of royalty.

Jim Harvey
Rockaway Beach, Ore.


I notice a shift to the right in America. You almost bend over backward toward the institution of the church. This little item on the Philadelphia sexual abuse crisis is an example. If your few words were all that I read on this subject, I would believe that the church was being unfairly attacked again. However, I read the article in The National Catholic Reporter about this, and your little summary is so inadequate and slanted toward the institution. You can do so much better.

Joseph Bukovchik
Vista, Calif.

Legal Insights

I was surprised by the statement of Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien on the unsuitability of homosexual candidates for admission to the seminary (Signs of the Times, 10/17).

In 30 years of criminal defense, I have represented hundreds of men and women accused of child molestation. The vast majority were fathers, stepfathers and grandfathers. A few were clergy and teachers, juvenile counselors and the like. I cannot recall any practicing gay men. Research tells us that people sexually attracted to children target them within an age span of two years, like boys between 5 and 6, or teenagers between 15 and 16.

In my profession, I have learned over the years, in confidence, that a number of clergymen were gay. Many of them were among the most honest, celibate men I have known. I shudder to think of the contributions to the church that would have been lost had they been turned away at the door.

If the church truly believes that gay men cannot live a celibate life, it ought to tell them to go find a partner and live the most committed life they can. Otherwise if a person is answering a call they believe is from God, it ought to be honored.

It is absolutely scary to hear talk of purifying the church and then targeting gay men. It is a good thing that the papacy has such a history that we know that not all its actions are the work of the Holy Spirit.

Paul W. Comiskey
Newcastle, Calif.

Candid Sharing

Many thanks to Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, Ariz., for the informative and interesting essay, Healing Through Bankruptcy (9/26).

The bishop’s candor and his explanation of the process the diocese went through to resolve, as much as it could, the financial problems as well as to help the victims’ healing process are pleasing and helpful to me in understanding the problems, about which I knew nothing.

I wish more bishops would be so candid and expressive in sharing the various problems and their solutions, even other than the abuse problem, which they are facing and solving for the benefit of the Catholic laity and the diocese, thus helping the faith of the faithful to be strengthened and trusting.

(Msgr.) George J. Adams
Brockway, Pa.

Faithful Catholic Women

Julie Trocchio’s review of Nursing Against the Odds by Suzanne Gordon (10/17) struck me right between the eyes, as I am both a nurse and a theologian. First, I can relate to her account of the arrogance of certain physicians. As one oncologist said to a patient when he completed a liver biopsy with my assistance: The nurse will clean up, and I’ll explain this to you. Unbelievable!

I saw the same attitude in working within the church, as a laywoman with a Ph.D. One priest, as I stood teaching a diocesan pillar course for catechiststhe basics of the faith from the Catechism of the Catholic Churchturned to me and asked if my husband had had to apply for the mandatum. In our diocese the bishop had respect for all theologians and offered it to all of us, even adjuncts. But the sexism apparent in that question floored me, as I sat with my degree, attempting to contribute to the faith I have loved since youth, seeing that the light bulb just didn’t reach the socket! Oh, well. Judith’s experience echoes mine in both the nursing and the parish setting. We just shake our heads, as faithful Catholic women, and wonder how it is in this day and age that the menfolk just can’t seem to see the whole picture.

Patricia Kobielus Thompson
Pittsburgh, Pa.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.
17 years ago
I am noticing a change in the material treated in America. I have been very disappointed in the coverage, or lack of it, regarding the pedophilia exposure in Philadelphia (Signs of the Times, 10/10; Letters, 10/31). Our people are so angry, so hurt and disillusioned and we need to have this attended to in print by Catholic magazines. Good analysis is needed.

I do understand that the editors of America are in a delicate position, but I call on you to be as courageous as possible in editorials and articles regarding this horrible event in our church.

17 years ago
I agree with Joseph Bukovchik (Letters, 10/31) that America is becoming a more conservative publication. Not so long ago, we could count on America presenting an intelligent, balanced discussion of controversial issues affecting our church and society. But now that the magazine appears to be so fearful of the backlash from conservative U.S. bishops (for example, removal of the previous editor), it ceases to be relevant (at least in my mind) in a country under immense pressure from the radical religious right.

17 years ago
Thank God for Jim Harvey, Joseph Bukovchik, Patricia Kobielus Thompson, Msgr. George J. Adams and Paul W. Comiskey. Their letters said it so much better than I could have. I too sense a drift to the right and after many, many years as an America subscriber am seriously considering switching to The National Catholic Reporter. The letters in the Oct. 31 issue gave me hope, so I will hang in a little longer.

I was unhappy with the Oct. 10 editorial as well. Your editor took umbrage at those Democratic senators who did not vote to confirm Judge Roberts. Did what Judge Roberts said some years ago about women make no impression on him? Well, as Ms. Thompson said: “Menfolk just can’t seem to see the whole picture.” But I have a right to expect more of the menfolk at America.

17 years ago
So Joseph Bukovchik (Letters, 10/31) and Gene Gagnon (Letters, 12/5) are unhappy that America seems to be drifting toward conservatism. How dreadful.

As a reader/subscriber since 1942 (that’s right!), I have seldom agreed with your editorial policies, but I assume your writers arrive at them after much study and prayer. It would be nice, as a disagreeing conservative, to be granted the same courtesy without being called a radical.

The issue is not being for or against peace, life, poverty, conservation, violence, etc. The dichotomy is in how to deal with these issues, and it is possible to have the balanced discussions these gentlemen long for when we concede that each side is acting in good conscience.

Despite our divergent opinions, I have always looked to America for the accuracy and completeness of its reporting on church documents and decisions, and it has never failed me.

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