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TV minister supports call for zero tolerance



Published: Thu, April 25, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



Don't take another chance on priests who molest children, a TV minister says.

By PETER H. MILLIKEN

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

CLARK, Pa. -- Pope John Paul II is right in calling child molestation a sin and a crime and insisting on a "one strike and you're out'' policy with regard to priests who molest children, a popular television minister said here.

"One strike, and I think they should be out of the priesthood. Sexual habits rarely change. If a child is involved, one strike. Don't take a chance on it again," said the Rev. Dr. Robert H. Schuller, founder of the Crystal Cathedral and the "Hour of Power" TV program. However, he added, "I'm sure that the problem is not confined to the Roman Catholic Church."

The Rev. Dr. Schuller was at Tara -- A Country Inn as a guest of Jim Winner on Wednesday evening. Tonight, he will speak at 7 p.m. at the Omni William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh at a $200-per-plate fund-raising dinner for St. Barnabas Health System's charity care foundation.

How he sees it

Dr. Schuller, who has a background in psychology as well as theology, said he wouldn't call pedophiles incurable. "I'm a man of hope. Anything's possible," he said.

Dr. Schuller, who called for prayers for the well-being of the Catholic Church, said he is sure only a very small percentage of Catholic priests have ever molested children.

"I would be very happy if the Roman Catholic Church could see its way to eliminating the celibacy rule," said Dr. Schuller, noting that he is happy in his 52-year marriage. If Roman Catholic priests could be happily married with children, "It would create an ambiance that could be helpful in their problems," he said.

The "Hour of Power," which originates from the all-glass cathedral in Garden Grove, Calif., is broadcast to a worldwide audience of 10 million, making it the most widely televised one-hour church service in the world. Having been founded in 1970, the program is aired on nearly 185 stations in the United States and Canada, including WYTV Channel 33 in Youngstown, where it airs at 8:30 a.m. Sundays.

Advice

A disciple of the late Rev. Dr. Norman Vincent Peale, who wrote "The Power of Positive Thinking," Dr. Schuller has written 32 books, including "Living Positively One Day at a Time" in 1981, and most recently an autobiography titled "My Journey," published last year.

"You can have all of the knowledge, all of the education, all of the wealth, but if you have a negative attitude, you'll enjoy nothing. And you will not even develop to its fullest the potential that's all around you,'' said Dr. Schuller, who is a minister of the Reformed Church in America.

"Constantly think: What are the possibilities around me, the possibilities to do, or the possibilities to be or the possibilities to overcome?" he advised.

"I really believe in the principle of being judged in the marketplace. It's a fundamental business principle, and I think it's God's business principle, too. If I'm doing something right, the people will support it," Dr. Schuller said.




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