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Letters to the editor 5/14

May 14, 2002

Catholic story has two sides


To the editor:

Regarding pedophilia, especially in Boston where more than 150 cases of child abuse were covered up by Cardinal Law, who paid off the plaintiffs and their attorneys, it is a disgraceful 10-year record of blackmail against the Catholic church.

That's what the legal system should investigate without delay. Furthermore, there is cause for concern when most of the complaints against the Catholic priests were filed, in many instances, 20 years after the alleged crimes were committed. Why did they wait so long and why didn't the legal profession report these crimes to the authorities? I believe they all saw a great opportunity to make money, knowing full well that the Catholic church, rather than be humiliated, would remain silent and make the payoff.

I'm also convinced, regarding other communities where charges of child abuse have been filed against Catholic priests, that the circumstances are much the same as in Boston.

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I know from personal experience as a Buffalo, N.Y., police officer with over 20 years street experience, working nights, that the Catholic priesthood is vulnerable to being exploited and blackmailed.

I'll relate one story whereby my partner and I knew the priest involved had sexual desires. We also discovered who took his vehicle and money from his pocket. The youth knew where and when the priest would travel the streets late at night. He was waiting for the priest to stop and ask him if he wanted a ride. The youth got into the car and accosted the priest, dumping him on the sidewalk after he took his money.

The priest called 911 and we responded. He pleaded not to report the crime. He only wanted us to find his stolen car and take him back to his parish home. Later that same night, we located his car and, from a witness, we were able to identify the assailant.

We returned the car to the owner. He would not prosecute. Without a complainant, we had nothing.

Priests and the Catholic church are always conspicuously open to blackmail. Also, they are fair game for every thief, liar and others who want to make lots of money. It's unfair, both morally and legally, to place all the blame on the priesthood and the Catholic church. People who now come out of the woodwork for money are despicable and obscene, including their attorneys as witnessed in Boston and elsewhere.

Theodore A. Schendel

Hedgesville, W.Va.

Some teens who make us proud


To the editor:

The news today is flooded with negative images of teenagers. I just wanted to take this opportunity to publicly spotlight a group of high school students who fly in the face of that image.

I am the advisor of the Martinsburg High School newspaper, "The Orange and Black Record." This year a phenomenal group of students was able to publish 18 eight-to-12-page papers. Unlike many high school newspaper classes, their papers were not merely filled with pictures and surveys, but contained age-appropriate, debate-inspiring articles.

Often advisors find themselves stepping in to do the work for the students, but this was not my experience. When a problem arose, they handled it themselves with maturity and professionalism. The entire group took ownership of the task at hand. Weak links were strengthened, and the walls of the traditional teenage "cliques" were, for at least one period a day, torn down. The result was a well-rounded newspaper that contained topics of interest from across the broad teenage spectrum.

As graduation approaches, I know I will lose 11 of the 20 students who are certainly some of the best young men and women I have met. However, society will be gaining its future leaders.

I look forward to working with next year's staff, which promises to be just as wonderful. However, it is with a bit of regret that I let the world have the pearls that MHS and "The Orange and Black Record" worked so hard to create.

Julie Canby-Cookus

Martinsburg, W.Va.

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