All my children ever wanted in the early stages of this was psychological help. One son got none; the other got five sessions before they pulled the rug out from under him, saying it was too costly. I wonder what Christ would have done?
David Lewis Biersmith
Kansas City, Missouri
Pray tell: I am the "distraught woman" in "Mother Superior Court," and when I first read this article, I became very upset. I couldn't understand why my own attorney would say anything that would indicate that I was only a victim of "bad therapy."
Kendrick Blackwood called me and wanted to talk, and I did not want to go into any detail of what happened. Is this the result of not being cooperative? Those few lines could easily have been left out, and the article would have read just fine. It was very difficult for me to discuss even what I did with Blackwood, and then to read this. I felt very hurt and ashamed being labeled a "distraught woman."
I believe I am owed an apology, for I did not deserve to be labeled this way.
Church pew: When my oldest child was in the first or second grade (1969-1971) in a Catholic school in Lexington, Missouri, our priest was transferred in a matter of hours. When I asked why, I was told, "We can't talk about it." In the wake of recent events, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to connect the dots.
What I want to know is why there are no legal consequences for the priests who committed these criminal acts -- especially for the bishops who covered up their crimes by passing them from parish to parish, thereby enabling them to ruin more children's lives. What if these people had been Baptists or Methodists? They'd be sitting in the Missouri State Prison, as these priests and bishops should also be.
So, am I correct in assuming that if you are a Catholic priest or bishop, you are not subject to prosecution for crimes committed? You just buy your way off with your parishioners' offering money. What a travesty.
Cardinal's sin: I cannot believe how the church turns its back on the victims its priests create. There are literally thousands of people who have been abused by priests, and more are coming forward every day.
Some states let those abused find some remedy through the court system. Unfortunately, Missouri legislators do not. They let the Catholic Church hide behind a "statute of limitations" loophole so they can't be held accountable. That does not help the men and women who were abused at all. They will carry this pain for the rest of their lives. They can't find any justice. The laws need to be changed so that the church can be made accountable.
I still believe in God, but I have lost all faith in a church that is supposed to help and heal but turns a blind eye to its victims. And I have even less faith in a judicial system that lets them get away with its corrupted ways. Laws need to be changed, and the church needs to be held responsible.
Firm support: I was surprised by "Mother Superior Court." I especially liked the cover art. However, I would like to clarify one misconception in the article. It appears to indicate that I am on a one-person crusade against the abuses of priests employed by the Kansas City Diocese. In fact, we have a committed team of individuals working together to create positive changes in how the diocese responds to complaints of sexual abuse as well as to litigate the cases of victims of past abuse.
This work could not be done by one individual. Luis Mata, my law partner and friend, has economically supported my quixotic efforts as well as bringing his unique expertise in public-interest law and class-action work to the table. Additionally, he provides help and support to the victims who have been so badly injured through Social Security disability and employment-rights experience.
Additionally, we have affiliated lawyers we may call on for litigation support and expertise in diverse areas of practice including Stanley Spero of Spero & Jorgenson in Massachusetts and Patrick Noaker of Jeff Anderson and Associates in Minnesota.
Finally, the real heroes working with survivors are the healers -- SNAP, MOCSA, and the many therapists and counselors who put these people back on their feet and allow them to move on with their lives.
Rebecca M. Randles
Kansas City, Missouri
Nun's the word: I think Kendrick Blackwood's excellent story was done a disservice by giving it a hokey name and by the inclusion of that unfortunate caricature of the puppet in nun's habit and boxing gloves that graced both the cover and the inside story. I think nuns were done a disservice, too.
Since nuns were only mentioned in passing during the course of the story, not only was the title unwarranted (haven't I seen that one as a "Before and After" puzzle on Wheel of Fortune?), but the illustration did nothing to conceptually illustrate a well-written story -- other than to perpetuate an unkind stereotype of women in religious communities.
Most nuns I have met over the years have been women of great humor, intellect, education and warmth. They are college-educated professionals who use their talents to improve the quality of life in the community at large.
I think they deserve better treatment than the illustration of a puppet in boxing gloves. I think the writing in your newspaper deserves better than that, too, as does your readership.
Bob Rose Jr.
Kansas City, Missouri
Jen, I turn straight to your column every week, but don't let it go to your head, because I bet you get a lot of this.
Name Withheld Upon Request
The thing that got me into this style is the old-style banjo. Fretless, gut-stringed and tuned a major fourth lower than modern banjos, the sound is tubby and warm. The right hand plays with the thumb and the nail of the first finger, an African technique. The tunes use much more rhythmic variety than the endless straight eights of bluegrass banjo; minstrel banjo also uses dotted eights, triplets, quadruplets, slurs and tied notes, etc.
My group doesn't black up, nor do we use the N word. No intelligent person today does these things. There is, I believe, still a historical and a social and a musical value to this material. As the article says, it deals with "America's main issue, which is race."
Gum Springs Serenaders