Thank you for your coverage of gay priests in the midst of the hysteria over pedophilia ["Scapegoating Gay Catholics," Patrick Giles, May 14]. Being a gay priest myself and having been prevented from returning to active ministry because I am openly gay, I feel that it is important to keep hitting the Church hard with the facts. We have tried diplomacy. We have even tried presenting them with scientific fact. Yet the Church refuses to listen. And who suffers? Not only those priests who happen to be homosexual, not only gay and lesbian Catholics. All Catholics suffer as a result.

Because of the hierarchy's discriminatory policies, I am not a welcome member of the active clergy. I have had to let go of that possibility. I believe that the Church, in my instance and in many others, has acted not under the auspices of the Holy Spirit, but out of a sense of self-preservation—the maintenance of the current power structure and way of life. I would hate to see my brother priests who are gay suffer the same fate.

Again, I hope that we can all work together to see that this injustice, this evil present in the Church, will be addressed and the thousands of good, holy men and women who serve the church and who are gay and lesbian may be able to continue to do their good work.

Peter Ashurst
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


Tim Townsend's "Cardinal Knowledge" [May 14] is a mess of contradictions and hysteria, much of it rooted in fundamental gaps in Townsend's understanding of Catholicism and the Church. First, priests are not "guy[s] who represent God on Earth." The role of the priest is much more complicated than that. Among the priest's roles described in Lumen Gentium, the dogmatic constitution of the Church, are the ministry of sacraments, the teaching and interpretation of divine revelation, and the administration of Church communities. The priest fulfills all of these duties in organic unity with the entire priestly people of the Church, and Townsend's frequent characterization of the Church as a conclave of bishops independent of the laity is in itself false. As Catholics, we are the Church, and we are all in this together, sharing responsibility for both justice and forgiveness.

Townsend also reveals fundamental gaps in his understanding of the law. He suggests that what the Church does "within its own walls and strictures" with a priest accused of past abuse "is beside the point and, frankly, unimportant." But the example he offers, and the one most troubling to the bishops and many laity, is of a priest whose alleged crime took place long before the statute of limitations had run out. Thus, calling the police makes no sense, and what the Church does internally is the only thing that is not beside the point.

I have long stopped expecting calmness or deliberation from underinformed journalists reporting on the Church, especially in The Village Voice. Though I am not an apologist, it would be refreshing to find a modicum of accuracy and fairness in reporting.

K. Emerson Beyer
Chicago, Illinois


I was featured as one of the women on welfare talking about marriage in the package of articles titled "Altared States" [Chisun Lee & Sharon Lerner, May 7]. The accounts by different women in response to Bush's marriage proposal covered an important issue. This violation of human rights must be stopped.

It is important for papers like the Voice to not only explore the issues, but also to let people know that there are ways to fight for one's rights around the issues. There are organizations fighting against the policies Lee and Lerner wrote about that many of us are involved in, yet these were not mentioned. People who are curious about what they have read should have access to these organizations.

Reporters could encourage such activism by presenting stories of people not only as individual victims but as part of active collective struggles. I, for one, don't stand alone. As a member of Community Voices Heard I am active in fighting against the Bush plan and other harmful proposals going through Congress.

I encourage people to join us in the struggle. If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything.

Shenia Rudolph
Community Voices Heard


Jonathan Ames writes in "Ode to the OED" [VLS, May 7] that "the 20-volume set goes for $995 and the one-volume 'compact edition,' which shrinks the print to the size of pinheads and comes with a hemispheric magnifying lens, costs $390." It is a small point, but unless there is more than one compact edition of the compleat OED, it comes in two volumes. The copy I have prints four pages to one, comes with the magnifying glass, and was bought used and in good condition for $90. Given the relative cheapness of the OED, it is not clear to me why anyone would pay $550 to use the online version. Not only is the cost prohibitive, but the benefits Ames speaks of in having access to postings are contrary to what seems to me to be the OED's best use.

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