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Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor,

So, I’m not exactly sure what this editorial is trying to criticize. It sounds like you enjoyed both the film and the panel discussion, but didn’t like that there was some discussion of homosexuality among Catholic priests. If you recall, I started my portion of the discussion off by discussing the phenomenon of doubt and gave statistics on the frequency of doubts among Christians (greater than 50% of Christians have doubts). I then briefly noted the 1 in 6 statistic you mention, then discussed at length child sex abuse among Catholic clergy. If I focused on anything, it was on the child sex abuse scandal.

In a movie called “Doubt” that is about people doubting not only their beliefs but whether they have done the right thing, it seemed appropriate to discuss doubts. And considering the fact that the primary “doubt” in the film is whether or not there was an inappropriate relationship between a priest (who may or may not be homosexual) and a boy who probably is homosexual, it seemed relevant to discuss homosexuality and child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.

Having statistics, in my opinion, sets the stage for a discussion, which is exactly what the statistics did.
You seem to suggest that you want someone to “[fight] for the church.” (I assume you mean the Catholic Church here.) What, exactly, would be the position of the Catholic Church?

The Catholic Church doesn’t deny that members doubt. The Catholic Church is the group that requested the John Jay Report, which is where the statistics I presented came from. The Catholic Church doesn’t deny child sexual abuse by clergy nor the prevalence of homosexuality among clergy. So, what would be a pro-Catholic position?

I think this editorial is falling prey to one of the problems that is plaguing journalism these days: The assumption that every issue has two sides to it.

It sounds like the editorial team of the Minaret wants another perspective on the issues of doubt, homosexuality, and child sexual abuse. I’m not exactly sure what that “other” perspective would be. I certainly hope it wouldn’t be an “anti-doubt,” “anti-homosexuality,” “pro-child sexual abuse” position! I’m pretty sure the Catholic Church wouldn’t take that position!

What’s more, neither of the panelists (though I won’t speak for Dr. Luter) actually took a position that was any more critical of the Catholic Church than simply noting that the Catholic Church has been through a legitimate scandal (which it does not deny).

In fact, I even said during the discussion that the Catholic Church is not the only religion that deals with sexual abuse among its clergy; that phenomenon is widespread among religions (and outside of religion). Sometimes, statistics are just statistics. I presented them so people would have a place to begin the discussion and so any discussion following the film would be based on facts, not because I had a particular agenda.
The rest of the editorial doesn’t offer a pro-Catholic position. So, in the end, I’m left wondering how the discussion disappointed you. Can you be more specific so we can try to improve the discussion next time?

-Ryan Cragun, Assistant Professor of Psychology

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