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Thursday, October 5, 2023

Staff Editorial

Church’s continued silence sending wrong message

In a story that has become all-too familiar, the Catholic Church has come under fire yet again. This time, a priest was accused of forcing an elderly woman to have sex with him in a church rectory.

Monday, 86-year-old Rev. Stephen Valenta was sentenced to five years’ probation after entering a plea of no contest to a felony charge of injury to the elderly.

Valenta was indicted last year and charged with prohibited sexual conduct and sexual assault after a 2008 encounter with a member of the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Rockdale while he was serving as a visiting priest.

The sentence came after Valenta reached a plea deal with prosecutors to drop the original charges.

This might go without saying, but the Catholic Church needs to get a hold of its priests. With new allegations of abuse seemingly popping up on a weekly basis, Pope Benedict XVI would be wise to send a message that any member of the church caught abusing their power will be punished by excommunication.

It may seem like common sense to say that people in positions of authority shouldn’t ever get away with using their influence maliciously, but for some reason certain priests in the Catholic Church haven’t gotten the memo.

Even stranger, however, is the fact that the church has chosen to remain silent for the most part when given the opportunity to comment on any one of these cases.

While no person should be condemned for a crime before all of the facts are brought to light, there is no denying that something strange is going on within the Catholic clergy. That Valenta’s only “punishment” is to spend five years in a halfway home (which he can leave at any time as long as he has an escort) while dealing with his problems is inexcusable.

The church needs to deal with this problem before it gets even more out of hand; its members deserve to be protected.

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