By Reid Forgrave
The Cincinnati Enquirer
The Archdiocese of Cincinnati's decision to acknowledge its failure to report allegations of child abuse is viewed by some local Catholics as a crucial first step to restoring trust among parishioners.
"The church is made up of human beings," Ron Burwinkel, 42, of Harrison, said after noon Mass Thursday at downtown's St. Louis Catholic Church.
"The only thing they can do is admit they made a mistake. Hopefully, this will be a healing thing. Personally, I would just like to see it end."
Dan Andoh, 47, said Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk did the right thing by not contesting the allegations against the church.
"Admission of guilt is the first thing the Church teaches," said the Forest Park man.
For one Bridgetown woman, the scandal is especially personal. Mary Hoffbauer, a St. Jude parishioner, has a son who is a priest at St. Boniface Church in Piqua, Ohio..
The pride she has for her son is challenged by the current perception of priests. The stigma has become so bad, she says, that some priests no longer wear their collars in public.
"It's really hard on all the good guys out there," she said. "You can just feel people staring (at priests). But the church will get out OK. There have been worse problems over history, and the church has always beaten the devil when he's at work."
For Marla Hricovsky, 35, of Deerfield Township, the scandal hasn't shaken her faith or her church attendance. Her children attend Catholic school, just as she did.
"Once the Catholic Church just gets all this out in the open and is honest, we can move on and talk about all the good things happening in the church," said Hricovsky, who attends St. Margaret of York.
Call for forgiveness
Among some close to the clergy, forgiveness is paramount.
"The respect we have always had for the church, for bishops, for priests, that respect has not changed," said Sister of Mercy Alice Soete, 83, a nun since 1939. "They might have made mistakes, but they can be forgiven. I've forgiven them, but I don't know if the community has."
William Stueve, 63 of Dayton, Ohio, said the sex-abuse scandals haven't shaken his faith in God, but they have affected his views of the institution.
Pleading no contest, Stueve said, "will help a lot, but it won't help as much as it should because the only thing that reaches (the church) is jail time and hitting the pocketbook."
Dan Klepal and Karen Vance contributed to this report.
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