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Letters From the Week of October 23


Feature: "The Ghosts of St. Elizabeth," October 9

Enough Already

Peter Rugg's story about St. Elizabeth was a bit over the mark. As any Catholic worth the incense at his own funeral, I am profoundly ashamed of the sexual scandals plaguing the church.

However, this is about the eighth time I have seen a detailed summary of the particular scandals at St. Elizabeth's, and must wonder why another full "rehearsal" is needed. The parties involved were profoundly affected, but they have been heard. As someone involved with my own, and many others', rehabilitation, I always recall my first group session for booze when the counselor urged a patient: "And why, after 18 years, are you still hanging on?"

Christianity teaches that in the face of great evil, all we can do is forgive — or else we hang on and are eaten up. It seems to me that people who insist that the very house where such actions occurred ought to be burned are, in fact, people burned up with hate that is destructive to self and to others.

I value any amount of therapy that helps victims. But what kind of therapy is it to retell over and over the "crimes" of a church that has struggled for the last six years at least to right the wrongs and to move to a higher plane?

Finally, Bishop Finn has been most careful to allow a full legal process to give Catholics and the public a serious explanation. He inherited the mess, and in no way could cause it. His "settlement" was a brave solution that radiates more Christianity than any of your articles ever seem to muster. I am sorry I ruined a beautiful fall day at the coffeehouse with such pointless rehash.

James McCormick, Kansas City, Missouri

Shock Therapy

Peter Rugg's story about sexual abuse by priests, the decades that it took place and the countless victims is not shocking in the least. It should be, but it's not. As a victim myself and an on-again, off-again member of a support group for those abused by priests, I've heard this story a hundred times; sometimes the stories are worse. I don't say this to make light of the victim's stories. I say this by way of hoping to shock the faithful. What is shocking is that the church is still able to deflect the public's ire over its abuses and subsequent coverup. Until we quit talking about this issue as "the sexual abuse scandal of the '80s" or "The Boston sexual-abuse scandal" and own up to the fact that this scandal is truly nationwide (if not worldwide), with millions of victims, we are letting the Catholic Church and its priests and bishops off a huge hook. There needs to be total disclosure and real apologies (not "I am truly sorry for what this scandal has done to the church"); if not, it is not just St. Elizabeth's rectory that should be torn down.

Christopher G. Wimmer, Wentzville, Missouri

No Pain, No Gain

I was deeply moved by the powerful encounter related toward the end of Peter Rugg's article, when priest-abuse victim Robert Bates finally met face to face with Bishop Robert Finn. As Bates related this encounter, he noted how "physically painful" it was for Bishop Finn to listen to Bates describe the terrible abuse he had endured. Bates even described the bishop as exhibiting a "pitiful spectacle" as Bates was finally able to make "the right person uncomfortable." Interestingly, the article then alluded to the transformation that began to occur in Bates as a result of this encounter, as he stood and "looked Finn in the eyes."

This is what forgiveness is all about: a deeply personal encounter where pain is shared, especially when it appears to be a pitiful spectacle! Only through forgiveness can deep healing occur, as it appears to have begun for Bates. Forgiveness is not pretty or easy, and I believe that the heroic and inspiring actions of Bates and Bishop Finn, in having this encounter, can be a model for others in our community who are suffering and need healing.

I would like to invite all of those who have suffered from priest abuse or other abuse, or from divorce, abortion or mental illness, to come to the Third Annual Conference of Forgiveness and Healing on November 21 and 22 at St. Louis Church, 5930 Swope Parkway. This conference will address the root causes of anger, its purpose in life, and the steps to resolve it. The featured speaker, Peter Kleponis, has spent more than a decade helping clients through combining Catholic spirituality with clinical psychology in a holistic approach that has been shown to dramatically reduce depression, anxiety, relationship problems and many physical ailments.

Jim Dougherty, Kansas City, Missouri

Feature: "Uneasy Riders," November 8, 2007

Seeing Red

Although it's been a little while since The Pitch's story on bicyclist fatalities in KC, I feel the need to add another perspective. I had always assumed that most such incidents were the fault of some evil motorist not paying attention or caring. But after what I witnessed downtown on the evening of September 26, I'm not so sure now.

I was in my car, waiting at a red light on Truman Road, when northward on Grand came a parade of bicyclists. Dozens and dozens of them. No problem, until the light changed. The two-wheelers didn't even slow down but continued to stream through the intersection against the light! Our light went from green to red, and they still kept coming, as traffic backed up behind us. When we finally got the green again, the stragglers of the group were still in our way.

I finally understand motorist anger against certain bicyclists. If it had been some organized political protest or, hell, even a nude bike ride, maybe I could understand their ignoring traffic laws. But this was just a bunch of self-centered turds who think the streets exist solely for them.

I have some advice for the urban training-wheel gang. Red lights don't exist to ruin your fun. They are there to help save your ass. Not all drivers will be as cooperative to you as those in that intersection were. Plus, to let others have the right of way when their light turns green is called common courtesy. Perhaps you've heard of it.

And may I suggest that you all start wearing helmets? Even though I'm disappointed with your behavior that night, I would hate to see your brains get splattered on the road somewhere.

Chris Benedict, Mission

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