Staff Writer Eric Russell wrote a news story published in the Nov. 30 Portland Press Herald (“Ex-priest, newly indicted, settled civil suit in June,” Page A1) about a 1997-1998 case of molestation allegedly committed by a Jesuit priest (James Talbot). In this article, Mr. Russell referred to “a widespread culture of sexual abuse by Catholic priests.”

According to every study I have read, the rate of abuse by Catholic priests does not exceed that of ministers in other faiths and is, in fact, similar to or even less than that for the general population.

Though there are data that suggest that public school teachers engage in the sexual abuse of minors with much higher frequency than priests do, I have never seen Press Herald stories on this subject claim that it is evidence of a “widespread culture of sexual abuse” by members of the teacher unions.

The abuse by priests that did take place is terrible, and the perpetrators certainly deserve to be punished, but not every priest deserves to be painted with Mr. Russell’s broad stroke.

Maybe Mr. Russell is biased, ignorant of the facts or simply wanted to sensationalize his story. Whatever the reason for his statement, it was at the expense of many people (priests) who just go about their daily lives of helping others.

If Mr. Russell and the Press Herald can’t produce the “data” that support his claim, then perhaps both he and the paper should publish an apology.

Dennis Caron