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How would a female pope handle the Catholic Church's sex abuse scandal?

How would a female pope handle the Catholic Church's sex abuse scandal?
Pope Francis in southern Italy on July 7. (Ciro Fusco / European Pressphoto Agency)

To the editor: The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church expressing “shame and sorrow” over sexual abuse by priests is similar to the expression of “thoughts and prayers” in response to mass killings. Significant actions are necessary, even if they will not erase the stain of the abuses that have occurred.

The church, like many other religious denominations, has a history of male privilege. It is past time for the church to demonstrate that males and females are viewed as equal and allow women to fulfill leadership positions at every level of the denomination, including the papacy.

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This tangible action, while not diminishing the pain suffered by victims, would announce to the world that the Catholic hierarchy is willing to end a serious problem. Significant actions are necessary for progress.

Karl Strandberg, Long Beach

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To the editor: Reading about the abuse by Pennsylvania’s Catholic priests — and how their superiors concealed those crimes — shook me to the core.

It recalled my mid-teens as a member of the Methodist church in a small Central Valley town. Our staid elderly minister retired and was succeeded by a charismatic thirtysomething whom everyone, young and old, admired. Through his engaging leadership the church’s membership and youth fellowship expanded.

I viewed this man as a rare real-life hero. Alas, after four years he was abruptly transferred, without explanation, to a distant congregation. I didn’t learn the reason until many years later: He had been molesting young boys in our church, and continued doing so in his new one.

That’s when I looked elsewhere for religion. Any church that imperils the health and welfare of its youth to protect its reputation deserves to lose its donor base and IRS tax exemption as well.

Dennis Alston, Atwater, Calif.

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To the editor: Blaming a culture for wrongdoing overlooks the role of individuals.

In my long career, people have asked me to do unethical things, including falsifying employment documents, tax records and photos. There were always reasonable explanations for the requests — “to help a colleague” and so forth. In each case, I refused.

Back in the 1980s, I stood up for a gay co-worker who was put on leave for making a sexual joke in an environment of management’s constant sexual innuendo. Management fired me.

Being assertive can strain relationships or, as I discovered, even end a career. At minimum, you will likely stand alone.

I am certainly no saint, but I draw the line at being complicit with unethical acts. Yes, an ethical culture starts with a strong message from the top, but it also requires individuals to create a culture of “right doing.” The responsibility belongs to each and every one of us.

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Mary Weaver, Studio City

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