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Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Pilarczyk is a stern leader who usually turns out to be correct



David Wells' column ["Mea culpa/Time to be pastoral," Sept. 26] said Archbishop Daniel E. Pilarczyk does not "get it" when addressing issues of child and teen-ager sexual abuse by priests.

My dealings with the archbishop go back to his days as rector of the seminary when I was a student. There were a number of times when I found him to be heartless in his decisions. What angered me all the more was that, when all was said and done, he had been correct in his "heartless" approach because he was more concerned with doing the right thing than keeping people happy. Over the years, serving as one of his priests, I have found that while he is extremely logical and rational, he certainly doesn't wear his emotions on his shirt sleeve. This does not mean he does not care about people. He just seems to be more concerned with coming to a just and honest solution for all involved than with "feeling their pain." By far, more times than not, his decisions have turned out to be farsighted, fair, and truly in the best interest of the people he shepherds.

His decision to allow the five priests who had abused children to remain in active although supervised ministry may not have been popular, but so far there have been no accusations that any of these men engaged in inappropriate sexual behavior with minors once they were under supervision. While we may have wanted these men out of the priesthood, could it not be that Archbishop Pilarczyk's approach kept them under scrutiny and behaving properly? Now that they have been removed from active ministry, who is there to provide such control? The archdiocese no longer has authority over them.

There are a few problems that have been solved successfully because someone emoted well, but many have been solved because someone thought well. When the dust settles on this emotionally charged issue, could it be that the levelheaded approach of this archbishop will be seen as correct?

Rev. Jeffrey M. Kemper, Mount Washington




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