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The Vatican is an authoritarian body. Don't expect it to change quickly on sexual abuse

The Vatican is an authoritarian body. Don't expect it to change quickly on sexual abuse
Activists from the Ending Clergy Abuse organization protest in St. Peter's Square in the Vatican on Feb. 24. (Guiseppi Lami / EPA/Shutterstock)

To the editor: While most people agree that the Roman Catholic Church should not only listen to abuse victims but must also punish abusers and their enablers, one wonders if an institution built upon authoritarianism can actually do so. (“Pope condemns child abuse by priests but fails to issue zero-tolerance rule at summit,” Feb. 24)

Though I have admired much of what this pope has said, his hopes and thoughts regarding these crimes of clergy abuse ring hollow to many of us, whether we were sexually abused by priests or mistreated by religious authorities in other ways.

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I will never, ever forget what one angry priest said to me and some of my fellow Catholic school elementary students when he heard us making comments about his cigarette smoking and his driving a luxury car: “You children are here to obey, without question. And the word of a priest is more important than that of anyone else, even that of your parents. Pray you don’t go to hell for your sinful thoughts.”

As such, I held very little expectation that this Vatican conference would produce real change.

Mary Stanik, St. Paul, Minn.

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To the editor: The world has known for decades that some Catholic clergy have preyed upon children, nuns and others for sexual gratification. And, the coverup has been going on for decades.

Pope Francis recently de-frocked ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. That’s it?

I have another suggestion as to what penalty people who sexually abuse others should receive: prison. Law enforcement should be charging clergy for the crimes they are alleged to have committed, and if they are found guilty, they should be sentenced appropriately.

Lay people go to jail for these crimes.

Cathleen Orchard, Bonsall, Calif.

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To the editor: Let priests marry. Invite married men and women and single women into the priesthood. Problem solved.

Bill Smart, Santa Barbara

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