Priests vulnerable to false accusations 

I admire Publisher Greg Erlandson for his recent news analysis (“Sick of clerical abuse stories? We are, too,” Aug. 15). I rarely go through a week without hearing someone quote Jay Leno or The New York Times with a slur against the Catholic Church and priesthood. OSV has done a good job educating Catholics about the broader context of sexual abuse in our culture. The scandal in the Church is but one over-hyped facet of a cultural disaster. 

The Church is not just an easy target for the slurs of Jay Leno and the Times. It’s also an easy target for lawyers and false claimants looking to score a windfall. This aspect of the scandal is seriously neglected because organized victim groups stand ready to pounce whenever the legitimacy of a decades old claim of abuse is questioned. Bishops have been bullied into silence and unquestioned settlements. 

They’ve also been bullied into discarding our priests. When one understands the role of the contingent-fee bar in sexual abuse litigation, it becomes a virtual certainty that some priests have been falsely accused for money. One such case was exposed by the Wall Street Journal in 2005 (Dorothy Rabinowitz, “A Priest’s Story,” April 27/28, 2005). The case of Father Gordon MacRae is profiled in a remarkable website at This site was one of OSV’s 2010 Readers’ Choice for the “Best of the Catholic Web” (In Focus, Aug. 15). 

To paraphrase the Gospel parable, this priest was beaten by robbers and left on the side of the road in our Church. A growing number of Catholics have become unwilling to pass him by, no matter how sick we are of the sex abuse story. 

— Ryan A. MacDonald, Indianapolis, Ind.

Drones are best option 

Re “Catholic scholars weigh ethics of military drones” (News Analysis, Aug. 1): 

What CLAPTRAP! In the past, the U.S. military would have used the following to fight their wars (good or bad): 1) Good ole napalm; 2) cluster weapons; 3) flame throwers; 4) nerve agents; 5) blister agents. 

And last, but not least, fuel air explosive, which our military is capable of using but refrains for human rights, etc. We tie ourselves with rules of engagement, which is killing our men. The drones are the best so far in selecting the insurgents and protecting our military personnel and innocents, which the author and his sources so conveniently forget for some reason or other. 

— Henry Lovenson, Rochelle Park, N.J.

Reverential response 

A bit of information might help “Lost in Translation” (Letters to the Editor, Aug. 8) make the “new” translation more acceptable. When we answer the priest’s “ Dominus vobiscum ” with “And with your spirit,” we express our awareness of the fact that the priest is our spiritual father when he is performing liturgical services. Our response wishes him the fullness of the sacramental grace of holy orders, which gives him the power of performing for us this spiritual service as our spiritual father. 

“And also with you” is a response we offer to an equal, even an unfamiliar person. It is a response stripped of any indication that we are aware we make this response to one representing him to whom we owe worship, reverence, respect and every mark of honor as our Creator. All religious groups that are thoughtful worshippers of a deity make a distinction between their “every day” language and the language of religion. 

— Theresita Polzin, Denver, Colo.

Part of a pattern 

Re “What JPII would say about mosque plans at ground zero” (Openers, Aug. 15): 

I believe that if Iman Feisal Abdul Rauf really wants to be a bridge between Christianity and Islam, he would not start with enraging Christians. I think his desire to build at ground zero is in keeping with the Islamic pattern of building mosques on sacred sites of other religions in areas they have conquered such as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem and prominent Catholic churches in Spain. 

— R.F. Shaul, Master Sgt. USMC Retired, via email

People, not buildings 

Re “Heavenly houses” (In Focus, July 25): 

We are the Church — the people, not the building. I’ll take the way Mother Teresa of Calcutta worshipped God. Enter the room, take your shoes off, sit down on the rug on the floor, and the tabernacle on the altar where the presence of Our Lord is. There the sisters have found God in the mystery of the holy Eucharist. 

Our Lord chose a stable to be born in. He came to save us, the people, not these million-dollar structures. 

— V. Frankenberger, Milledgeville, Ga.

Not our responsibility 

Re Father Larry Snyder’s comment on the disappointing results of raising money from the public for the oil spill (This Week, Aug. 8): 

I believe since the economy is so poor, and this was a manmade disaster, the public wants BP to take full responsibility. I expect if it were a natural disaster, the response would have been generous. 

— Jeannine Aucoin, Henniker, N.H.


“Vote leaves Anglo-Catholics with difficult choice” (Aug. 8) should have stated that Pope Paul VI met with Archbishop Michael Ramsey of Canterbury in 1966.