Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Archbishop expresses his distress

Letter written to archdiocese conveys hurt

By Richelle Thompson,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        In his first public comments to the more than 500,000 Roman Catholics under his care, Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk talks about the pain and suffering from the priest sex abuse scandal, the mistakes made by church leaders and the future of the faithful.

        A personal letter from the archbishop to members of the 19-county Archdiocese of Cincinnati will appear on the front page of Friday's Catholic Telegraph, a weekly Catholic newspaper with a circulation of 102,000.

        The archbishop is publisher of the newspaper, which is sent to the archdiocesan parishes andsome members.

        “I get the sense people are waiting for him to talk to them,” said Tricia Hempel, the newspaper's editor. “It's very important that we not get into an Ivory Tower situation with this.”

        “The more people hear from the hierarchy and from their pastors, ... the more people will see that everyone in the church is suffering,” she said. “It's not just the laity that feels betrayed. The hierarchy and priests also feel betrayed.”

        Five archdiocesan priests — including a semi-retired priest and another who works in the Vatican — remain in active service despite substantiated sex abuse claims. Another three are on paid administrative leave after admitting to sexually abusing minors.

        In the letter, Archbishop Pilarczyk does not release any new details about allegations against priests. Nor does he discuss the grand jury subpoenas that have required the church to turn over documents and information about any sex-abuse accusations.

        Instead, the archbishop tells his flock that he is in pain and confused, too. He reminds them that there is no easy answer. Human nature is full of sin and weakness — and church leadership can't totally eradicate those problems.

        Still, he says, bishops and dioceses shoulder some blame for mishandling cases. Mistakes have been made as the church has learned how to deal with the problem, the archbishop says.

        The archbishop reminds his followers that the Lord still is with them, teaching lessons of empathy and an awareness of evil.

        Paul Jones, a Catholic who lives in Green Township, says he hopes the letter offers some answers. He's having a difficult time knowing how to respond to questions from his three children.

        While it's important the archbishop address the issue, Mr. Jones worries it may not appease a lot of upset Catholics.

        “God bless him for trying, but I think for a lot of people, it's a day late and a dollar short.”


- Archbishop expresses his distress
Census shows SE Indiana perked up by prosperity
'Star Wars' launches at 12:01 a.m.
Local program employs youths for summer jobs
Luken fears tax may spook Convergys
Men still missing after second day of river search
Obituary: Richard J. Schilling owned Beverly Hills
Pilot license suspended in sinking of towboat
Presbyterians vote to study gay issue
Time Warner stops charging franchise fee
Tristate A.M. Report
AMOS: Bad timing
BRONSON: Roach forum
HOWARD: Some Good News
KORTE: City Hall
Cinergy grants aid area schools
Conese denies threatening board member
Lebanon adds to downtown
Lebanon annexation bid gets nod
Middfest shines spotlight
Planners scale down I-75 mall
Policeman dodges bullets
Portman taking sides now that primary's over
Principal selected for Mason High School
West Chester TV expands programs
5-4 ruling shows rift on court
Convention center tax advances
New game will face updated Powerball
Traficant to play tapes for committee
Edgewood chooses police chief
Kentucky News Briefs
Many tax refund notices undelivered
Power plant conditions set
Protesters air gripes at finance firm's meeting
State works to fix deficit