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Our Opinion: Church needs strong stance

May 01, 2002

The Catholic Church has found itself at the forefront of media attention as sex scandals have come to light across the nation and the church has come under fire for its handling of the controversy.

Initially we were going to write an editorial urging the church to take a tougher stance against such actions and to find ways to prevent such activity from casting a shadow over the good work of the church and hurting those who look to the church for guidance.

However, since the editorial board first discussed such an editorial, church leaders seem to be moving toward a "zero-tolerance" policy. Church leaders have said they are not going to hide from such issues and are going to take steps to address this mess.

What we would urge the church to do is to continue dialogue beyond the media attention. At some point the media is going to end its focus on the church and at that time the Catholic Church will again find itself able to operate in a vacuum. We can only hope church leaders are honest and earnest in their intentions.

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The church has the power to heal itself. It cannot do so if all the talk now is nothing more than a show put on by a church that finds itself under scrutiny from the public and the media.

We believe the church is ready to make changes. There has been a lot of talk about changing certain doctrines such as the issue of celibacy of priests. That is not for us to address in a newspaper editorial. We think change is possible in the church, but such change is going to take time and thought and guidance from above.

What we do know is church leaders play an important role in this highly Catholic community and they owe it to those who depend on their spiritual leadership and guidance to do what is necessary to rid itself of problems. They also owe it to their parishioners to make sure those priests who are guilty of crimes do not have a chance to harm others again, particularly children.

People should know that when they go to church, any church, that they and their families are going to a safe place; one where they can seek guidance without fear from the clergy upon whom they depend.

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