JANUARY ended with an interesting pair of announcements by the Vatican.

One confirmed the resignation of the top Vatican official responsible for handling sex abuse cases after a former nun accused him of making sexual advances during her confessions, and, on the same day, reporters on the papal plane dispatched stories about Pope Francis seeking to lower expectations of his big sex abuse prevention summit on February 21-24.

From his flying pulpit in the skies, Francis pontificated that "the problem of abuse will continue. It's a human problem".

My message to Francis would be that clerical child sexual abuse and the dreadful damage it causes to young lives is very much a matter of scale, not wishful thinking and spin.

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Psychotherapist, former priest and respected US researcher, the late Richard Sipe, extrapolating from his 25 years of interviews of 1500 priests and others, estimated that 6 per cent of priests abuse.

Canadian psychologists and researchers James Cantor and Michael Seto have estimated the number of child abusers in the general male population at approximately 0.5 per cent to 1 per cent.

Sadly, Francis is doubtless correct in saying there will be no end to priests gaining sexual satisfaction from the children in their care.

Many will remember the Vatican II proclamations 53 years ago that "modernised" the church by instructing priests to face their congregations, drop Latin and allowing nuns to ditch their medieval costumes.

But apparently there was no edict that it was past time for the centuries of child sexual abuse within the church to cease.

CAROL WEBB
Whanganui


Bridge railings unsafe

I notice the gap in the railings on the town bridge — from the tragic accident on Christmas Day — has not yet been repaired.

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The hollow iron railing on the bridge appears to only serve a decorative purpose and will not stop a car going over the side.

Why can't there be steel wire ropes across the bridge to prevent such an accident? Up north there are hundreds of kilometres of four-lane motorways, with these wire ropes dividing the lanes, and preventing cars travelling across and into the opposing lanes.
Would seem only reasonable to have these barriers on road bridges as well, to stop accidents like this.

MARK McGHIE
Bastia Hill


Alzheimers support

Alzheimers Whanganui Inc will hold their annual street appeal on Friday, March 1.

Volunteers will be out around Whanganui, the Waimarino, Taihape, Rangitikei and Marton in their blue bibs with their buckets, and we ask that people show their support for those living with dementia in our communities.

Alzheimers Whanganui relies very much on the support of our communities to be able to continue to provide the best service we can to those people who are living with dementia and/or are socially isolated, and their families/whānau.

We are working hard to make our communities "dementia-friendly" and one of the biggest challenges is to get the public talking about dementia. Hopefully our presence in the community will spark the conversation.

All funds raised remain with Alzheimers Whanganui to be spent in the Whanganui, Rangitikei, Taihape and Waimarino areas.

WENDY PATERSON
Manager, Alzheimers Whanganui


Roading Woes

How is it that Kaikokopu Rd has a small section of road unsealed?

This road, if improved, would help reduce the heavy traffic overload being experienced on State Highway 3 into the city.

RUSSELL CRANE
Otamatea


Send your letters to: The Editor, Whanganui Chronicle, 100 Guyton St, PO Box 433, Whanganui 4500; or email editor@wanganuichronicle.co.nz