To the editor:
I read Joyce Szwagiel’s letter in the August (Catholic Courier).I agree with her that an innocuous little word or words can change the significance or even subtly imply that the events never happened.
Ms. Szwagiel was referring to the atrocities of the holocaust and the statement “They spent a day at the death camps of Auschwitz where millions of people — mostly Jews — are believed to have been exterminated at the hands of the Nazis.” The words are believed diminish the horror of the holocaust and even subtly undermine that they occurred at all.
Similarly, several weeks ago in the Courier (July 2007) an article was published about the settlement reached by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and victims of sexual abuse by priests. However, instead of being reported simply as victims the word alleged was inserted before victims to read the alleged victims. The word alleged lets in doubt as to the truthfulness of some of the reporters of the sexual abuse and diminishes the magnitude of the abuse of power by religious.
This is not only damaging to the victims but to the church in that it shows that my church is still not ready to accept total responsibility and acceptance of the fact that the abuses occurred and damaged many lives.
This unwillingness to accept responsibility and have empathy for victims does not appear wrong. It is wrong.
I am truly saddened that my church continues to undermine the credibility of those victimized by the Church when they should have been protected.
EDITOR’S NOTE: In the absence of criminal convictions, it is standard journalistic practice to use the term “alleged” in reference to all parties in pending cases. The Catholic News Service news item in question addressed the settlement of more than 500 cases that were never brought to civil — nonetheless criminal — trial.