Keep eyes focused on Jesus, not presenters of his message

A few years ago, Father John Corapi was invited to speak at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Syracuse, N.Y. I attended all his talks and had the opportunity to meet him face to face at the end of Mass. My impression of him was that he was a very humble and kind man. He asked to be kept in my prayers. 

I am deeply sorry by the recent developments concerning the allegations against him (“Lessons from the allegations against Father John Corapi,” April 3). I cannot judge him. Sometimes we concentrate too much on the “presenter of the Gospel message” than on the understanding of the actual Word of God. This is where we become disappointed because we have taken our eyes off Jesus.  

We have lost many good priests because of accusations that were considered concrete but after investigation proved to be invalid. On the other hand, many priests who should have been stopped and investigated immediately were allowed to continue their priestly duties. Either way, the Church has suffered greatly. 

It’s all in God’s hands ... he knows the depth of the human heart. 

— Mary Anne Venditti, Syracuse, N.Y.

Naming names 

There are three priests in my family and all, unfortunately, have had the occasion to suffer through accusations that were proved false by very extensive investigations by civil authorities and church authorities. All were placed on “administrative leave” and had their reputations ruined for life. 

In each case, the “injured party” was angry that “Father didn’t do what I wanted” or “Father made me mad.” Each allegation was made in the form a “dissertation” (voluminous) letter. 

What I have found is: 

1) If there is a credible allegation, one does not need multiple pages to assert the claim. More than one page is an indication there is something else motivating the allegation. 

2) In each case the identity of the accuser was protected, yet the accused has their name plastered all over the front-page news and Internet.  

What I wish would happen is that, to protect the reputations of all involved, that no names are made public until the accusation has been deemed credible or not.  

— Name withheld, via email

Bring back confessionals 

“Obsolete sacrament” (Editorial, March 27) has one of the main reasons that Catholics shy away from confession. And I bet that you didn’t know it did. 

“One of the nation’s most prominent Churchmen, New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, recently revealed that he’s made it a practice to slip out in street clothes on Saturday mornings to walk to one of the city’s many Catholic churches to make his confession, his identity unknown to the priest behind the grille.” 

If we are required to go to confession in an open room facing the priest, then he should also. 

Our newly remodeled church has a room. Yes, you can kneel before a covered window, but the priest sees you as you walk in and everyone in the church sees you in the room.  

They took away our private confessionals where the priest was in a closed booth and had no contact with you and you entered another booth by way of another door. 

That is the reason attendance at confessions is down. And don’t deny it. 

— Name withheld, Gonzales, Texas

Fallout of shortage 

I fully agree with your article about the need and value of frequent confession. I know that this sacrament is the sine qua non of a serious Christian life. Regular confession would bear that out. 

However, frequent confession is impossible. There are not enough priests to hear the thousands of people in the ordinary parish. One example: A large parish has 2,500 parishioners. Many parishes have only one priest. It is impossible for him to hear even a small percentage of the parishioners in a meaningful way. 

— Father Charles Gallagher, Chicago, Ill.

Constitutional matter 

The caution of the U.S. bishops is praiseworthy, as is Pope Benedict’s appeal for hostilities to cease (“U.S. action in Libya: just, unjust or just too early to tell?” April 10). The critiques of both miss one important criterion to determine whether the war is just or not: Does it violate American laws? The Constitution reserves the power to declare war and conclude peace to the Congress. While the War Powers Act of 1972 allows the president to initiate American military action for a duration of six months or less without the preapproval of Congress, this is allowable only when America’s national interests are at stake. While an emergency humanitarian action is clearly in the interests of the United States, the final goals of the intervention in Libya remain unclear. Many commentators say that regime change and support for a new rebel government are implied in the mission; other commentators warn against “mission creep.”  

I am repeatedly disturbed by the way that many Catholic moral commentators are oblivious to the specifics of U.S. constitutional government. A Catholic cultural apartheid is not any more helpful to American Catholics than is the danger of secularization and theological assimilation to assumptions about the faith that are opposed to Catholic teaching. It is time for American Catholics to apply the resources of their own culture to living and defending their faith. 

— Stephen P. Hidalgo, via email