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On Priest Abuse

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I just finished reading the Journal's report on the Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Rosa in which Bishop Robert Vasa is partially quoted as saying "I know of no other way to bring light to this distressing moment in the church." ('Rid me of This Troublesome Priest," Feb. 7.)

This moment. In chilling understatement, the bishop and even the North Coast Journal fail to follow the dots to the end. It has long been accepted that abusers are usually survivors of abuse. That being the case, doesn't it follow that abusive priests may have been previously abused within the church they serve? In which case, shouldn't we be asking ourselves whether this problem has always existed in the Catholic Church?

It is time for the church to reexamine its rules on celibacy. It should be remembered that priests were not always forbidden to marry and in other denominations marriage is accepted. While marriage itself is no guarantee that abuse won't happen, allowing for the possibility of a healthy form of love and affection is better than a forced lifelong abstinence. Celibacy for life shouldn't be the only way to serve in the church. We must do more to break the cycle of abuse than just calling out the abusers. We must evolve the church into a spiritual system that doesn't create abusers.

Rhonda Kaminski-Hanck, McKinleyville



It is indeed a shame that many of the higher ups in one of the world's oldest religions have turned out to be abusive slimeballs of various kinds.

I recall many years ago, being told by a gentleman, who I have no reason to doubt, that when he was younger, he had applied to be a postulant for the priesthood and, as such, had been sent to a seminary to be trained.

Among other things, one reason he bailed was that the candidates — all men, naturally — slept together in a dormitory and he would be kept awake by some of the postulants playing musical beds. I suppose you could say they were being trained to not respect the chastity they were supposed to live by.

It is undoubted that at least part of the reason there have been so many abusive priests can be blamed on the Catholic Church holding on to the outmoded ideas of chastity and patriarchy.

So, hold their noses to the grindstone until this mess is cleaned up and admitted to by the hierarchy. There is no reason why the most vulnerable members of society — the children — should be abused by those in power over them.

And not just priests. Several years ago, a Ferndale scoutmaster wound up in prison for abusing his charges. (See the latest edition of the Ferndale Museum's "Our Story.")

And now the reason I originally got up on my soapbox.

The headline for your cover story "(Will No One) Rid me of This Troublesome (sometimes Meddlesome) Priest" – may indeed have been said by Dublin Archbishop Dermot Ryan to Santa Rosa Bishop Mark Hurley, but its history is much longer.

Usually attributed to King Henry II in 1170, it was said about Thomas Becket — Archbishop of Canterbury — after which some of his knights took it upon themselves to murder the archbishop as a favor to their monarch.

Which is kind of reminiscent of the recent debacle with the journalist and the Saudi crown prince. The more things change, the more they remain the same.

Bruce L. Slocum, Ferndale



Thank you for your much needed article on the sexual abuses by Catholic priests and the cover-ups of their actions. Bad information that needs to be shared. Thank you for helping to spread the word.

I do have one problem with the article. You have a chart of known alleged abusers, which is very interesting. The problem is the repeated use of the word "laicized." I did not know what that word meant I bet I have a lot of company there. Not in my dictionaries, but in Wikipedia: "Defrocking, unfrocking or laicization of clergy is the removal of their rights to exercise the functions of the ordained ministry."

Dave Rosso, Eureka


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