May 30, 1994

Letters to the Editor

Confronting Priestly Pedophilia

THE HEADLINE OF YOUR ARTICLE "AFTER the Fall" includes the statement that ̉the Catholic Church lags behind in forging a policy on priestly pedophilia [RELIGION, May 9].

As chairman of the ad hoc committee on sexual abuse of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, I dispute that. Roman Catholic dioceses around the country have indeed developed these policies which must be made and acted on at the local level. Some dioceses have already revised their guidelines to make them more effective.

The N.C.C.B. has reaffirmed the basic principles for dealing with these accusations: investigate promptly; where the accusation proves well founded, remove the perpetrator for evaluation and treatment; offer pastoral assistance to victims; cooperate with investigations by civil authorities; and deal with the matter as openly as possible, giving due regard to the privacy of the individuals involved.

In November the committee will offer additional recommendations, continuing to embody the conviction that the abuse of children is both a moral and a criminal offense. It is something we are determined to prevent in the future, just as we seek to heal those injured in the past.

(The Most Rev.) John F. Kinney Washington

THE SOLUTION THAT THE CHURCH OFFERS is to keep transferring these sick men to different parishes, thereby supplying them each time with fresh, new innocent victims. Revolting, and not to be comprehended. Cecelia A. Welsh Burke, Virginia

I HAVE READ HUNDREDS OF ARTICLES ON the sexual abuse of children by priests. To best understand this crisis, however, one need only read this excerpt from your story:

David Clohessy, National Director

Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests [SNAP ]

St. Louis, Missouri