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The Church in the Lurch 

Letters published June 28, 2001

Misguided leadership is to blame

The Catholic Church should have a priority on vocations over anything else: bold and dynamic leadership from the bishop, major funding for the vocation office, and a team of men with the fire and drive to treat this "crisis" as a problem to be solved ["A Few Good Men," May 24].

Twenty-one years ago, I graduated from Borromeo Seminary, about the same time that the Bishop's miter passed from Hickey to Pilla -- from bad to worse. Today, the priest shortage is twice as bad. The Catholic Church will have this problem as long as it continues to hand leadership positions to mediocre politicians who point fingers, blame society, and resist anything that might help the problem.

James Hoover
Fairview Park

Taking on a Pilla of the community

The writer of your cover story on the Catholic priesthood must be a relative of the Pope. How Scene can offer such Catholic propaganda as a credible news story in this day and age is unfathomable. Let's get real here. There's a stunning reason the Church is in need of more than "a few good men." (The sexism inherent in that phrase alone boggles one's mind.)

The leadership of the Catholic Church has watched thousands of good women and men leave its ranks over the past 30 years -- legions of priests, nuns, and lay people. They all left because the Church betrayed them, because the Church was no longer a place to grow, and in some cases, because the Church expelled them. They left saddened, disillusioned, and angry. Why?

Bishop Pilla does many a great offense by pretending he does not know why his church is now unable to meet its own leadership requirements. He would have us believe it's because people nowadays are all caught up in a lifestyle of fun and games, unable to prioritize spiritual concerns and unable to make commitments to noble matters. Shame on you, Bishop! I would hope that the readership of Scene is a far shot from the typical sheep in the pews. Let's take a moment to remember history and set the record straight.

The Church has seen an incredible exodus of its own leadership in the past 30 years. Women have left because the Church does not treat them as equals, does not give them power in matters of Church teaching and governance or in matters of their own bodies. Married people have left because the Church tells them they cannot make decisions for themselves about sex, birth control, and family planning. Gays and lesbians have left because, in this church, they don't have the right to be fully human, have feelings, express their sexuality, fall in love, enter relationships, and in short, have happy lives.

Unmarried people who like sex have left because the Church's theology of sex is shame- and sin-based, discriminatory, dehumanizing, and impractical. Thinking adults have left because they are tired of being treated like children who can't make moral and ethical decisions for themselves. Humanitarians have left because this church will rip apart relationships and people's livelihoods to control and enforce its teachings and rules. Loving people have left because this church favors controlling over loving and puts more energy into limiting the definitions and expressions of love, rather than expanding them.

How do I know these things? Because I was thrown out of the church of my youth at age 33, after 17 years of service as a teacher, organist, and director of spiritual-life programs. In a 30-minute meeting, Bishop Pilla ended relationships of a lifetime, both in my parish of St. Francis and in my family. And he did this without involving my community or my family. The Bishop did this because I broke the rules: I dared to fall in love with a man and enter a committed relationship.

Suffice it to say that there are many good reasons why, in the last 30 years, the Catholic priesthood and interest in being involved in the Catholic Church has crumbled. And it is not, as Bishop Pilla would have us believe, because good men, or women for that matter, are hard to find! They've just gone elsewhere -- sometimes of their own accord, sometimes because they've been violently pushed -- to greener pastures, where people still seek and value relationships over rules and the power of the Church.

When the Catholic Church discovers the truth, it will not have to recruit leaders. Men and women, some single, some married, and some gay, will come running.

Bob Navis Jr.
Cleveland

Whatever happened to respectful hooliganism?

So, the members of the growing "Cult of the Car Stereo" [May 31] profess joy in observing their power to elicit often-negative reactions to their drive-by audio assaults. Do these bassholes have any aspirations for themselves beyond irritating pedestrians and their neighbors, jolting infants out of their sleep, and shattering the quiet grace of a beautiful day that everyone should have the right to enjoy, without being forced to listen to that headache-inducing crap? Whatever happened to swatting mailboxes with baseball bats? At least that variant of immature, delinquent behavior is a lot quieter. Way to go, fellas. Kudos to your folks for not teaching you about common courtesy: In respecting another's right to privacy, the realm of hearing is also included.

David L. Broome
Cleveland

You too could have a lucrative career in medicine

Of course medical students should be informed about abortion procedures! Your "Abortion 101" article only scratched the surface [May 31]. While pro-life groups are touting dinosaur-slow and often unenforceable "abortion alternatives" (such as better child care, paternal responsibility, availability of contraceptives, and ever-elusive "relationships built on respect"), the elective abortion is a quick, sure "surgical strike" solution with a ready and lucrative market. The abortion industry provides an excellent financial career opportunity for physicians.

Lynn Richardson
Bedford

Thanks for exposing the ICC

I would like to compliment Scene for an excellent piece of journalism. David Martin did a superb job writing about the International Churches of Christ ["The Jesus Pyramid," May 10]. The artist did a great job illustrating the pyramid scam on the cover, and the photographer's excellent close-ups helped make this story an eye-catcher.

The article was objective and well-written, presenting both sides. You performed a valuable public service to the citizens of Northeast Ohio by educating and informing them about the ICC. Too many good newspapers are ignoring the opportunity to inform the public about cult activities.

I hope the article will help alert curious readers and prospective devotees to the self-destructive thought-reform pattern used to deceive and dupe followers into giving their precious time, money, and energy to delusional, self-seeking "prophets." I hope the article will make more people aware of "preying" prophets whose primary goal is to make more "profit" from their duped devotees.

Thanks for publishing a terrific article and informing Northeast Ohio about the ICC and its devious mind-control tactics.

Barbara Miller
Akron

Correction

Last week's Letters incorrectly stated that William Denihan had resigned from the Cleveland mayoral race. The statement should have read that Denihan resigned from the Department of Children and Family Services to run for mayor. We regret the error.

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