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Sins of the Churches

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To the editors:

Thank you for publishing "The Sins of the Fathers" (May 24). This is a serious issue, not just for the Roman Catholic Church, but for many religious denominations that hold to "traditional" (heterosexist, homophobic, erotophobic) views on human sexuality.

What was missing in your fine article exposing priestly pedophilia was how the Church's refusal to redefine sexual ethics based upon current psychological and physiological evidence adds to the disease itself by reinforcing one of its sources, i.e. cultural/internalized homophobia. By "covering up" gay priests and transferring them to other parishes as punishment, they miss the therapeutic remedy needed: acceptance and responsibility to end sexual violent (nonconsenting) acts and treating both the victim and the offender with psychologically healthy resources for sexually viable relationships with adults later.

As an openly gay United Church of Christ clergy, I know that finding acceptance and affirmation is difficult within the churches. It is difficult to find an "inclusive" parish these days even for those of us who are recognized as equal partners in the faithful. However, only until all the Christian denominations recognize that lesbian/gay persons need to publicly, spiritually "come out" and affirm our sexual preference as professionals in the church, pedophiles and other dysfunctional character disorders will flourish.

What society and the churches need to face is that pedophilia is a symptom of the very act of antigay cover-up and misdirected sexual regression. Key to reconciliation with the victim and offender is a spiritual commitment to heal the wounds and end the violence (both personal and institutional). Having worked with spouse abusers with AMEND in Denver, I learned that such therapy can change lives as well as ignorance. We all have much more to learn and do.

Reverend Dr. Timm Peterson

Chicago

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