Column on CNN special was biased

As a family physician who has also been sexually assaulted by a Carmelite priest when I was younger, I am really disappointed in the bias of “Missed opportunity” (Spectator, Oct. 10). I think Gary Tuchman and CNN were respectful of our Church in their program on “What the Pope Knew.” Sadly, I believe it is the leaders of our Church that have failed us! 

There is proof that the pope, as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and as the head of the office of faith and morals, had the authority over 24 years to make decisive decisions to prevent the spread of priest sex abuse. 

I see Pope Benedict XVI as a shrewd and ambitious man who did not want to rock the boat, so that he could climb up the ecclesial ladder. And so he did become the right-hand man of Pope John Paul II and now pope. Even now, he refuses to accept personal responsibility for his part in the priest sex abuse crisis. 

As practicing Roman Catholics, I think that our focus should be on honestly looking at the scandal of priest sex abuse and using our voices to effect change. 

Does the author of this article want to help to end this crisis? Does the author have sympathy for those who have been abused by priests, especially when they were innocent children? Or does he want to protect the reputation of our Church, whether the Church is right or wrong? 

— Rosemary Elaine McHugh, M.D. Wheaton, Ill.

Penance isn’t enough 

Re “A 12th-century nun’s tips on reforming a corrupt clergy” (Openers, Sept. 26): 

Pope Benedict XVI’s message on Church renewal through penance and personal conversion, but without structural reform, in the wake of the clerical sex abuse scandal rings hollow to most Catholics and fellow Christians. Apparently, St. Hildegard of Bingen was not very successful in her mission for ecclesiastical renewal to combat clerical abuses by suggesting this approach in the 12th century. Since “penance and conversion” are things that may never truly happen, they can be interpreted as just tactics by the Church to turn the page and go back to the old way of doing things. 

People expect much more in the form of true justice, with compensation, punishment of criminal behavior, and structural changes in the Church, such as openness, more participation by the laity and decrease in clericalism. 

Forgiveness is fine and a necessary component, but the solution to the problem does not end there! 

— Richard B. Luthin, M.D. Jacksonville, Fla.

What’s the rationale? 

“Mass relearning” (Editorial, Sept. 26) says that I can go to to preview the new Mass text, as well as see explanations of the rationale behind the changes. I looked all over that website but can’t find the rationale. 

I’m disappointed that it’s missing. I’d write to the bishops to let them know it should be there, but I can’t find an e-mail address for them. 

—James Becker Woodstock, N.Y. 

Editor’s note: You can find some explanation behind the changes at

Biorhythm of life 

May I add “ordination of women” to the list of “Body Blows” in the article on the theology of the body (In Focus, Sept. 26). Pope John Paul II defines man as being “a person incarnated” — that is, in each cycle of the universal biorhythm of life, God calls forth a person from eternity; and he brings that person into being in the world, through the Word made flesh in the life cycle of the biorhythm. 

If conjugal union is expressed within the procreative meaning of the cycle, procreation of human life can occur. If it is renounced within the procreative meaning “for the sake of the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 19:12), and expressed in only the unitive meaning, as for regulation of birth (see Humanae Vitae , No. 16), the body and blood of Christ is “put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit” (1 Pt 3:18). 

In this Way, procreation is relinquished, but there is a sharing of grace and communion of persons with the spouses, their family and the world. This redemptive sacrifice is a propitiatory unbloody representation of Calvary. God has ordained to confer the biorhythm in which this banquet of life is given, not upon man, but upon “the woman” (Gn 3:15), who presides over the “altar” of the universal biorhythm of life. 

— Ruth Kavanaugh Kalamazoo, Mich.

Order’s true founder 

You made an error in a sidebar presenting a brief history of the Carmelite order (“The Carmelites,” Oct. 3). The author says the Discalced Carmelites “adhered to the reforms of St. John of the Cross.” It then mentions St. Teresa of Avila as one of the order’s great saints, along with St. Thérèse of Lisieux. 

But it is St. Teresa of Avila who reformed Carmel and founded the Discalced Carmelite order. 

St. John of the Cross embraced her reforms, not the other way around. Both went on, of course, to become great saints and doctors of the Church. 

I think St. Teresa, in her humility, might laugh at this mistake, but I was surprised.  

— Erin Baratta Rocky Hill, Conn.