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Dear USA TODAY reader:
We may use your letter, but please verify that this is indeed your letter by e-mailing jwalte@usatoday.com and/or editor@usatoday.com. Or please call me at 1-800-872-3410, ext. 3630, and leave a message saying it is your letter. And, in case you haven't done so, always give your full name and town or city of residence. Otherwise, we won't be able to use your letter. Thanks and regards, Juan J. Walte, USA TODAY Editorial Board Member

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From: silentlambs
To: editor@usatoday.com
Subject: FW: Jehovah's Witnesses need to be enlightened
Date: Wednesday, February 13, 2002 10:32AM

I noted the following opposing view in today+s paper, following it below you will see my view of how enlightened Jehovah+s Witnesses are when it comes to child molestation. www.silentlambs.org William H. Bowen Calvert City, KY 270-527-5350

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USA TODAY
2-13-02
Page 14A

'We have been enlightened'

Church has learned from mistakes, is making efforts to correct them. By Wilton D. Gregory When the bishops of the Roman Catholic Church first encountered sexual abuse of children and young adults by our clergy, we saw it as a moral failing to be addressed by penance.

Later, we viewed these tendencies as mental illness, which doctors suggested could be controlled, if not cured. Most of today's specialists believe otherwise. The law rightly makes it clear that sexual abuse of minors is a crime. We have all been enlightened.

We continue to learn from our experiences and, hopefully, even more from our mistakes. Today, heightened seminary-screening processes attempt to identify and weed out unhealthy candidates for the priesthood. Workshops are designed to help people define and understand boundaries, with the assurance that the law will address those unable to abide by them. We have urged our dioceses to form review boards of laity and professionals to assist in evaluating accusations as soon as they are received and to review fitness for service. And we have emphatically encouraged our brother bishops to address the needs of victims justly and pastorally. Meanwhile, the United States' 350 bishops and 47,000 priests share in the shame and humiliation felt by our laity. Catholics continue to celebrate and attend Mass. We visit the sick, counsel the troubled, aid the destitute and care for one another.

Last year the Catholic Church provided social services to 11 million people and health care to more than 77 million patients. The church educated more than 3.5 million students, and welcomed more than 1.2 million into our ranks. We know there are victims whose cries may still not have been heard. We apologize and regret the pain of all of those who have been affected by this horror more than these words can convey.

Wilton D. Gregory is bishop of Belleville, Ill., and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

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'We have been enlightened'

Church has not learned from mistakes, is making no effort to correct them

By William H. Bowen

When the Governing Body of Jehovah's Witnesses first encountered sexual abuse of children and young adults by our congregations, we saw it as a moral failing to be addressed by "waiting on Jehovah."

Later, we viewed these tendencies as an imperfection, which elders suggested could be controlled, if not cured. Most of today's specialists believe otherwise. The law rightly makes it clear that sexual abuse of minors is a crime. We should have been enlightened. We seem to refuse to learn from our experiences and, sadly, even more from our mistakes.

Today, we have no heightened screening processes attempting to identify and weed out unhealthy candidates for the elder within the congregation. Kingdom Ministry Schools for elders along with Pioneer Schools are designed to help people define and understand boundaries of the organization, with the assurance that Watchtower Legal will address those unable to abide by them.

We have urged our Bodies of Elders to form judicial committees to investigate child molestation using the litmus of two eye-witnesses to establish wrongdoing to assist in evaluating accusations as soon as they are received and to review fitness for service. And we have emphatically encouraged our brother district overseers to address the needs of victims quietly and protective of church image. Meanwhile, the United States' 60 district overseers, 600 circuit overseers and 39,000 elders share in the shame and humiliation felt by our laity.


Jehovah's Witnesses continue to call door to door and attend Kingdom Halls three times each week. We seldom visit the sick, offer no counsel for the troubled, ignore the destitute and only care for one another. Last year the Jehovah's Witnesses provided social services to no one and health care to none.

The church educated more than 6 million students on how to place literature for the church, and welcomed more than 200,000 into our ranks. We know there are victims whose cries may still not have been heard. We ignore them and regret acknowledging the pain of all of those who have been affected by this horror more than these words can convey.

William H. Bowen is a former presiding elder of Draffenville, KY., and president of silentlambs the only support group founded for victims of child molestation among Jehovah's Witnesses.

 

 

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