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Opinion

Opinion: Moving an accused abuser to public schools is a new low for the Catholic Church

Survivors Of Sexual Abuse By Priests Hold Press Conference In San Francisco
Members of the group SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, protest at the offices of the San Francisco Archdiocese in 2010.
(Justin Sullivan / Getty Images )

To the editor: It is appalling that officials in the Seattle Roman Catholic Archdiocese took accommodation of child sexual abuse by a member of the clergy to an unimaginable low. They removed a priest repeatedly accused of child molestation from their diocese — and then recommended him for hire in a public school. (“The Catholic Church knew he was an abuser, but helped him get a job in public schools,” Oct. 13)

Thus this priest was able to become a public school teacher and continue assaulting minors. The church’s apology and $1.3-million payment to a victim doesn’t mean justice has been done. Perhaps this sad case will prompt laws making church officials criminally liable for failure to report sexual assault allegations to police, as many states now require.

The state of Washington, alas, permits “penitent privilege” to shield child abusers from law enforcement scrutiny. Deference to religion should end short of allowing children’s lives to be irreparably ravaged.

Edward Alston, Santa Maria

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To the editor: On the one hand, I empathize with churches that do their utmost to secure devout, law-abiding clergy, yet wind up with chronic sex offenders in their pulpits.

On the other hand, I feel that any church whose administrators strive to cover up clergy sexual assaults should answer to the law (if not to their god).

This agnostic’s prayer: Enact federal laws mandating a church to immediately notify police of any clergy’s suspected child molestation, with penalties that include revocation of the church’s tax exemption (which would preclude the church’s supporters from claiming tax deductions for donations).

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Churches whose administrators tolerate pedophiles in the pulpit should pay a steep price. Hitting them hard in the pocketbook may be what’s needed to put the “fear of God” in them.

Nancy A. Stone, Santa Monica

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