Abuse by Clergy

In response to "Society Shares Blame for Scandals, Vatican Says," June 26:

I am surprised at The Times for not printing this newsworthy story on the front page where it deserves to be printed rather than buried inside.

According to the article the "Vatican says a permissive society has to share the blame for child sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests." What kind of society would we have if we all behaved in the same manner as the Vatican? Particularly the manner in which they have attempted to cover up this scandal?

So now, children are to blame for "tempting" the adult priests. I am disgusted. Is this not tantamount to telling the rape victim that she invited the rape by her actions or dress? And how exactly are these children to defend themselves against the predator priest, when priests to most children are a notch above most authority figures?

This certainly is a church that has lost touch with its people. My heart goes out to the victims as do my prayers for a healthy recovery. This is the same church that has done for family planning what Congress has done for a balanced budget. Now it adds insult to injury. Shame upon shame.

JIM PLEMAN

Santa Ana

* Regarding society's role in abuse of children by priests, the Vatican spokesman has it almost right. It is only in a free "permissive" society that children's rights are recognized, so that they are not afraid to speak out against their abusers. We can only guess how many children were victims in former times when it was a "sin" to accuse one's spiritual leader of wrongdoing.

EDYTHE M. McGOVERN

Los Angeles

* In response to "Jews Begin to Address Allegations of Sexual Misconduct by Rabbis," June 19:

Clergy, including rabbis, as all of us, are imperfect human beings. Clergy, however, are frequently over-idealized and because of this, serious problems of misconduct may emerge.

We must do a better job in educating clergy as to their own inner awareness and boundaries. The resulting enhancement of coping devices would probably reduce the incidents of sexual misconduct, which bring pain to the clergy and the other persons involved.

Seminary training for clergy should include a counseling experience to better identify areas of vulnerability. It might be that during this time, the clergy student would learn more about him/herself to better equip him/herself for this chosen life. Ongoing seminars about emotional conflict for practicing clergy should be mandatory.

We also need to understand that there must be a concept of repentance for most misconduct. People will always have problems, and people may be able to reorganize their thinking and effect positive change. With that in mind, the concept of repentance and return to community life is something that most of us must be agreeable to and encourage.

ARNOLD L. GILBERG MD

Immediate Past President, Southern

California Psychoanalytic Institute

Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry

UCLA School of Medicine

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