Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Philadelphia priests

Berwyn Banter . . . Ray Hoffman’s Remarks on Homosexuality Evoke Strong Response from Local Residents

In reading the Letters to the Editor in the Main Line Media News, there were several references to Ray Hoffman’s Berwyn Banter column from March 24, 2011, which before writing this post, I had not read.

In the past, Hoffman’s columns have generally focused on local community events such as restaurant opening and closings, funerals, sports and school events, the Fire Company, etc. His remarks can be informational and are often times laced with his opinion on local politics and people. Occasionally, Berwyn Banter has provided personal opinions on other topics, including an obvious disdain for online news sources, including blogs. Unfortunately, on several instances, Hoffman has referenced both me as a political candidate and Community Matters in a very negative, disrespectful manner.

Unlike the dialogue that Community Matters topics often evoke, Hoffman’s Berwyn Banter columns rarely produce any comments. I choose rather than responding directly to his criticisms, to simply ignore his rancor, preferring to believe in the mantra ‘what goes around comes around’. Apparently, for Mr. Hoffman, that concept may have hit home for him; his last Berwyn Banter column which referenced his moral outrage over the Catholic Church priests has received negative response from local residents.

To be clear, I too am outraged over any child who has suffered abuse at the hands of Catholic priests (or any adult). However, for Hoffman to suggest in his column that pedophilia and homosexuality are synonymous; and “the work of evil incarnate and therefore unforgivable”, has taken his opinion, to a very difficult and hard to understand place. One can describe pedophiles who prey on innocent children as evil and their behavior unforgivable but it saddens me greatly to read that Hoffman imposes the same standard in his description of homosexuals. Growing up gay in America and facing religious intolerance and persecution can prove a challenge for many of today’s youth as they struggle to fit in and to ‘belong’. Hoffman’s words are painful to read.

My concern for Hoffman’s apparent intolerance of homosexuality is echoed in one of this week’s letters to the editor from Liz Young of Wayne. She writes . . .

“ . . . The biggest misunderstanding many people have is that pedophilia and homosexuality are one and the same. But to say that all homosexuals are pedophiles, or that all pedophiles are homosexual, is like comparing apples to rat poison. . .

Statements like those of Mr. Hoffman inspire hate crimes. In many parts of the world, including our own country, we have made strides in tolerance and acceptance. Do we really want to go backward to a world where members of disliked minority groups were stereotyped as representing a danger to the majority’s most vulnerable members? For example, Jews in the Middle Ages were accused of murdering Christian babies in ritual sacrifices. Black men in the United States were often lynched after being falsely accused of raping white women. . . “

I note that there is not a Berwyn Banter column in this week’s edition of the newspaper. I emailed Ray Hoffman but have not received a response, perhaps he is on vacation. [update: Ray Hoffman responded to my email, confirming that will he continue to write his column for the paper. He also corrected me that the column changed from ‘Berwyn Banter’ to Main Line Banter’ two years. ] The following is an excerpt from Ray Hoffman’s Berwyn Banter column of March 24, 2011. To read the entire column, click here.

Moral Outrage over Catholic Scandal . . .

Nobody asked me but I think that there needs to be another level of defined sin in the Roman Catholic Church. Mortal and venial sin each has a long litany of offenses identified over the centuries, and one might think that this multitude of imperfections and separation from God covered it all. Not so fast, my friends. A few short years ago, the white-hot spotlight of front-page press illuminated pedophilia among priests throughout the United States. Child abuse by priests was amok, even affecting legions of faithful families along the Main Line. As if this evil plague of child abuse were not enough in itself, the heinous cover-up by the church hierarchy of priests abusing innocent and trusting children was equally disgraceful. The world continues today to be further appalled by and mourns this unthinkable parasitical pestilence on a daily basis. As the incidences of child abuse grow in number and location, the question could well be asked: where and when does this stop?

Last week fellow columnist Henry Briggs joined a clamoring contingent of lamenting and lambasting journalists in the cry: “Enough!” Which brings me to my suggestion that there should be another level of defined sin within the Catholic Church: unforgivable sin. No ifs, ands and buts! Just unforgivable! I know that the basis of many organized religions is that God is a forgiving Creator and Father. But it is difficult for me to believe that my God would not have a hard time forgiving men who have prostrated themselves before him, vowing that they would do his will, and to have those men shatter the sanctity of young and innocent children who have been entrusted to their care and spiritual upbringing. What is even viler is that many of these offending pedophiles are also homosexuals. Pedophilia and homosexual behavior is more than mortal (deadly) sin. It is the work of evil incarnate and therefore unforgivable. . .

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