Editor: The recent Pennsylvania grand jury report documents clergy sexual abuse and a related cover-up by bishops in six Catholic dioceses.
The similarity in cover-up behavior found in each diocese is shocking and obviously systemic. Most parents would never allow a child to be near a person who is a known sexual abuser or even suspected of being one. But, these bishops didn’t hesitate to do so.
Is Pennsylvania the only place where the Catholic Church has behaved so horrifically? Hardly. However, convincing documentation does not exist as clearly as it now does in Pennsylvania. Civil governments must take the lead, as was done in Pennsylvania, and do what the church won’t do. Many more grand juries need to be impaneled and empowered to find and declare the truth because without truth there can be no justice and without justice there will be no healing.
Thus, throughout the country, people should demand the establishment of far-reaching grand jury investigations into the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal. Doing so would serve the common good of our society.
THE REV. JAMES CONNELL
Editor’s note: Connell, a retired priest, is a member of Catholic Whistleblowers, a group of priests, members of religious orders and laypeople who support survivors of abuse.
Stomp out bullying
Editor: As the school year approaches, teachers could weigh in on how the name-calling exhibited by our president has pervaded the classroom.
The idiom, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me,” is untrue. Everyone remembers being called names by parents, siblings, family members or schoolmates. Those words never go away. Everyone remembers the contexts of those words in their lives.
In her book, “Teen Torment: Overcoming Verbal Abuse at Home and School,” Patricia Evans says, “Words can be as damaging to the mind as physical blows are to the body. The scars from verbal assaults can last for years.”
Books about bullying abound. Bibliotherapy is used for all kinds of parenting skills. “Crow Boy,” by Taro Yashima, takes place in Japan. The main character is bullied by his classmates. “What can that stupid do?” his classmates say as they make fun of him and refuse to let him be part of the class.
“The Hundred Dresses,” by Eleanor Estes, could make you cry each time you look at its cover. “Loudmouth George and the Sixth Grade Bully,” by Nancy Carlson, gives a fresh practical approach to dealing with bullies.
Since October has been designated Bullying Prevention Month, perhaps the first lady should publicize her anti-bullying campaign in the White House with the president and others in attendance. We teachers would be glad to send in book recommendations for daily bibliotherapy readings.
It is hard to ask children to respect each other if the culture from the top disrespects others. Name-calling bullying has invaded our society. It is now deeply embedded in schools.
When will we finally say, “It’s time to go because you have abused our most precious ones on this planet — our children”?
Heed queen’s command
Editor: The queen of soul, Aretha Franklin, recently passed away of pancreatic cancer.
Aretha was a trailblazer in many ways, coming to shine during the civil rights movement, rising from a teen mom to be the first woman to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and receiving a presidential medal of freedom.
In light of current circumstances I couldn’t help but think of one of her most famous songs and the truth it sings: Respect is something we all deserve, from birth until death.
In recent times, respect is not something we should have taken for granted. It is hard to detect in some of our leaders these days. The lack thereof is evident in our schools, churches, workplaces and government, in the seemingly constant acts of bullying and harassment.
If we lived by the simple words of the late Aretha Franklin and just paid everyone respect, no matter their age, color, religion and gender, how much less violent and critical and how much more civilized our world would be.
Respect the human race; we all deserve it. We should live it, expect it and demand it from our leaders.
POSIE O’BRIEN GRANET
Protest criticism distorted
Editor: In 1773 a group of American colonists known as the Sons of Liberty staged a violent protest, boarding ships owned by the British East India Co. in Boston Harbor.
The protesters, with disguised faces and dressed as Mohawk warriors, threw every tea chest into the water. Despite the illegality of the act patriot leader Samuel Adams justified it as a protest by colonists exercising their constitutional rights.
Moving forward to modern times the same can be said for NFL players protesting racism and discrimination. They are defending their First Amendment right to free speech and peaceful protest.
Then, as now, the issue is not the object, tea chests or flag, but rather what the symbols represent. Just as the Sons of Liberty did not protest tea as a beverage the players do not protest the flag as a symbol of our military, but rather the larger problems of prejudice and discrimination.
But what exactly does our flag represent? It represents not one individual or entity but the entire country and American experience.
The 13 alternating colored stripes represent the 13 original colonies and/or states. The meaning of the colors, as borrowed from the Great Seal of the United States, represent red for hardiness and valor, white for purity and innocence and blue for vigilance, perseverance and justice.
Mostly everyone understands the 50 white stars represent the states that make up our nation.
While the military and our veterans have the most emotional investment in the flag, it stands alongside the investment of all Americans.
Americans would be better served if they held steadfast to the physical and historical construction of our flag and not to be swayed by a demagogue who strives to use it for his narrow, selfish, partisan purposes.