Please understand concerns about clergy report
The Post-Gazette reported that the release of a secret grand jury report, alleging abuse by Catholic priests and deacons, was being opposed by some as “riddled with ‘inaccuracies and falsities’” (July 6, “Clergy Claim False Charges in Report”). We have not seen the report and cannot attest to its facts, but we understand that grand jury reports can contain innuendo and unsubstantiated facts.
There are reasons for grand juries to operate in secret. They are not trials. There is no opportunity to contest or rebut charges that may or may not be true. In most states, it is even against the law to release information to the public. Yet they remain an important tool for prosecutors to determine which allegations might be worthy of bringing charges and which are not. Grand juries were not created for the court of public opinion.
While being named in such a report is not by itself an accusation, the damage to an innocent person’s reputation is considerable and possibly irreversible. This is especially true in the case of deceased or infirm persons who are no longer able to defend themselves.
The courts are correct to use extreme diligence to prevent such damage.
This is a challenging and painful time for Catholics and all people of goodwill as we deal with the horrendous implications of the investigation. If the report is released, we ask that the Post-Gazette and other media outlets also use similar diligence not to impugn the reputation of the innocent along with the guilty. REV. REGIS RYAN
President Board of Directors Association of Pittsburgh
Priests McKees Rocks
This letter on behalf of the board was also signed by Jim McCarville, vice president; Sister Barbara Finch, secretary; and David Aleva, treasurer.
A poor impression
This summer marks my 25th year as a transplant to Pittsburgh. I grew up in Cincinnati, went to college in Indiana and lived outside of Boston for five years. I have come to love the city, its people, its places, all that it has to offer. But last weekend, I was embarrassed.
I took my 82-year-old uncle to the Duquesne Incline for the spectacular view of the city. It was a gorgeous weekend. Lots of people were out, including many other visitors here for the Pirates/Phillies series. There are no restrooms in the small building at the top of the incline, but we were going roundtrip so we were directed to the portable toilet in the parking lot at the base of the incline. One portable toilet. The folks visiting from Harrisburg who were in front of us reported that it was filthy and kindly shared their paper towels.
I called the mayor’s office this week and was directed to report this to the city’s 311 line, which I did. I was told this is run by the PortAuthority. I’m not sure who is responsible for what, but the bottom line is that this experience left a huge negative impression on many visitors to our city who would otherwise have only been impressed. C’mon, Pittsburgh,we can do better! CHRIS McKENNA Franklin Park
A kindness salute
I was moved by the last paragraph in Keith Burris’ column (July 8, “We Are in Trouble”): It spoke of “the intentional pursuit of kindness and goodness ... .” A national spiritual awakening is something I am not qualified to initiate, but his thoughts gave me an idea. Three concepts seemed to intersect when I read Mr. Burris’ words: 1) where I live, 2) Fred Rogers and 3) the challenge posed inthe column.
I live in a development off of Freedom Road in Cranberry that has no stoplight. For the five years I have lived there, I can count on one hand the number of times people have stopped or slowed down to permit me to enter the traffic flow. Such a simple thing to slow down, a loss of three to four seconds in one’s commute, but oh so rare. The second concept is Mr. Rogers. We are in the midst of a Fred Rogers resurgence with specials being aired, tributes made and feature-length films created. Finally the column itself got me thinking that kindnessis contagious.
So here is the plan: Every person in Western Pennsylvania, all 3 million-plus of us, will commit to three acts of kindness each day. During or at the conclusion of these acts, we will give a “Mister Rogers Salute,” which consists of taking one’s right hand, extending both the thumb and first finger and pointing downward, which would appear to the other as a small “r.” The giver will do it as well as the receiver, which would honor the act itself and, in a small way, pay homage to the legacy of Fred Rogers. With more than 9 million acts of kindness each day, ourarea would be transformed. D.W. STECHSCHULTE JR.