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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

May 21, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Priest sex abuse

Blind faith doesn’t work

I was saddened to read that former Seattle Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen testified that he “knew nothing” about the sexual exploits of Patrick O’Donnell [“Hunthausen ‘knew nothing,’ ” NWTuesday, May 19].

He chose to be blind. Hunthausen has long preached and been an advocate for social justice. Seems it would have been most appropriate for him to drop to his knees and beg forgiveness from the plaintiffs.

Unfortunately, the Catholic Church seems to focus less on forgiveness and more on issues of money. It looks like blind faith doesn’t work and it’s time to pay up.

— Kevin Haggerty, North Bend

Don’t direct ire at trustworthy priests

Three decades ago, a number of young boys in our area were sexually abused by someone who was at the time identified as a faith leader. This is cause for a spectrum of harsh emotions that, as a Catholic and a Christian, I cannot easily sort out. My heart goes out to this now middle-aged man who was victimized. I salute him for his courage in bringing into the light of day what he experienced. And I struggle to not hold hate in my heart for the person who has confessed to that terrible instance of betrayal and child abuse.

I also worry that this terrible story may be creating more victims. I hope that our community and news media will not carelessly paint the hundreds of honorable, caring, trustworthy men here in Western Washington who today wear the white collar of the priesthood with a broad brush of disrespect and fear.

Some recent news articles regarding the abuse trial have seemingly used the event as an opportunity to impugn the values of the Catholic Church, and by implication, the integrity and honor of those who serve today in the priesthood. One recent headline even characterized the abuse as “church abuse” [“Settlement for last plaintiff in church abuse case,” seattletimes.com, Local News, May 20]. I can’t imagine a news headline being more terribly wrong or more brutally unfair.

The Catholic community — and local Catholic leadership — never has and never would knowingly overlook, let along tolerate, any form of abuse, and especially abuse of children. Catholic priests, bishops, and faith leaders continue to work openly, honestly and unselfishly to make life here in Western Washington more meaningful and more rewarding for all of us.

So while this emotional, 30-year old story reminds us of the evil one man can exert on those unable to defend themselves, I hope that the rest of us will avoid committing another form of abuse, and not allow the reputation of all priests, those who today produce so much good for all of us, to be wrongly and unfairly tarnished.

— Bill Munroe, Kirkland

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