Imprisoned Catholic finds strength through God

Re “The Penitential Path” (In Focus, May 23). As a born-and-raised Catholic doing time in the penal system, I couldn’t agree more profusely with the point that rehabilitation — not retribution — is the way to solve the main problem with the incarcerated: that eventually they are freed and repeat their offenses.

I can’t stress the amount of times I have seen perfectly capable men of all ages underestimate their abilities, talents and opportunities and actually choose to revert to a life of crime because they “know that there are no chances of getting a job or stable life.” Between the “lack of funding” by the state for such programs as education and the lack of humanity demonstrated by those in office, their subordinates and their employees here in prison, it is a wonder that prisoners have not physically and mentally turned into the animals we are treated like. Suicide rates alone are ridiculous.

But such reversal of humane characteristics — in my opinion — come from a sole lack of FAITH. In a life without that belief that God has a plan laid out, how can one believe they are important and useful? They can’t even believe they were created by great hands. A man’s faith in our loving God has kept many warm, secure and strong. I should know, after almost seven years incarcerated, he is still holding my hand.

— Angel Reyes, Florida City, Fla.

Double standard

Considering the criticism the hierarchy has received for their manner of handling the sexual scandals, one wonders why they have been so inept in defending their actions. Beginning in the 1960s and thereafter, the conviction was that psychology could cure every human ill. The hierarchy complied with the prescribed formula by sending the troubled priest to these psychologists and psychiatrists.

After treatment, the priest, supposedly cured, was assigned to a different environment as their analysts recommended. He resumed his duties in a distant parish giving every reason, as time passed, that he had been successfully rehabilitated. Only decades later would any relapses be revealed.

A practice that, then, was generally considered a panacea does not become now a “coverup.” The secular press that discredits the bishops for their actions lauds Tiger Wood for submitting to the same treatment and rejoices in his rehabilitation. A double standard.

— Chuck Steer, Clearwater, Fla.

Indefensible

I just read Greg Erlandson’s rebuttal of Time’s article on Pope Benedict’s handling of the sex abuse crisis (“Magazine takes aim at the papacy — and misfires,” June 20). There is no getting around the fact that he gave Cardinal Bernard Law the honor of presiding at one of Pope John Paul II’s funeral rites and a seat on the congregation that chooses bishops. It doesn’t look like he came down too hard on a cardinal that had to leave the country to avoid prosecution for covering up sexual abuse crimes. Nor has he asked for any bishop’s resignation. Nor has he eliminated power-brokering at the Curia. Talk is cheap.

— Gayle Wittmann, via email

Too much coverage

I have to admit to becoming weary of the continuing barrage of information on the sexual scandal in the Church. I know that it has happened; I know that the Holy Father is doing everything in his power to respond to it. I just do not think that we need to hear so much about it. There are so many positive things occurring in the Church and so much catechesis that needs to be done. I think that it is time to accentuate the positive about us.

— Judy Kallmeyer, via email

Honor thy father

When I was young, addressing one’s father as “the old man” was considered disrespectful and unacceptable. In his columns (most recently June 20) Robert P. Lockwood often makes this reference when referring to his father. Given the disregard fathers are shown in today’s media, contributors would do well to honor the Church’s teaching on the importance of fatherhood. The editorial “Importance of Dad” in the same issue speaks well to this.

 — Clarice Seilo, Farmington Hills, Mich.

Case closed

This addresses Msgr. M. Francis Mannion’s answer on “Female deacons” (Pastoral Answers, June 6). It’s a non-issue in the Catholic Church, since the overriding issue will always be holy orders.
In Our Sunday Visitor of March 29, 1998, Cardinal Pio Laghi said the “Sacrament (of Holy Orders) ‘configures’ the ordained person to Jesus Christ, and such configuring has always been reserved to men.” Also, the women referred to in Scriptures were not sacramentally ordained. The Council of Nicaea (A.D. 325) says deaconesses are laypersons and received no ordination (Can. 19). The Council of Orange (A.D. 411) repudiated the idea women could receive holy orders (Can. 26). Fourth-century Apostolic Constitutions-VIII declare, “A deaconess does not perform anything belonging to the office of presbyters or deacons.” Pope John Paul II decreed it is a constant practice of the Church to imitate Christ and, therefore, the Church has no authority to ordain women (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, 1994).

It has been the unbroken tradition of the Church to exclude women from holy orders. Rome has spoken; the case is closed.

— Deacon Harold L. Bates, New Milford, N.J.