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June 30, 2010 - Image 5

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2010-06-30

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Wednesday, June 30, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

15

Keeping
A sa revert to Catholicism,
I'm still getting used
to being a public repre-
sentative for a
gorgeous and oft-
maligned reli-
gion. Actually,
I'm still getting
used to churn-
ing the precepts
of said religion
into my heart: ANNA
not complaining PAONE
when my faith is
maligned, carry-
ing the cross of tradition through
the fields of young adulthood,
realizing when I should stand up
for my faith and when I should
offer my other cheek. But given
the never-ending discussion sur-
rounding the Catholic Church at
the moment, I am writing for you
the good Catholic's - the good
person's - response to the sexual
abuse of children by clergy.
I first got wind of this issue
as a ten-year-old who read The
New York Times. Nine years later,
and the terrible acts perpetrated
by the supposed protectors and
teachers of innocent children are
still haunting the contemporary
Catholic hierarchy. I keep my
nose out of the Times these days
(well, sort of - I still read it, but
it doesn't influence me like it once
did), but the specter of the scandal
is just as strong as it once was.
I paraphrase the Pope and any
responsible Catholic leader when
I say that any acts of pedophilia
- or any abuse or intimation of
children, for that matter - are
contrary to both moral and divine
law and cannot be tolerated. For-
tunately, we now live in a time in
which people no longer hide and
cover up such horrible acts. But
some still do commit these atroci-
ties, and we must punish the cul-
prits and comfort the victims as
best as we can.
But how we accomplish that is
the key issue. In many cases, the
response of high-ranking clergy
continues to be slow, ineffective or
nonexistent. This is inexcusable,
and devout Catholics must remem-
ber that they do not invalidate
their faith by admitting that this
is wrong. In more cases than some
reporters would have us believe,
American bishops have responded
with proper vigilance. According
to a United States Council of Cath-
olic Bishops study of 1,671 accusa-
tions, 54.5 percent of priests who
were still active at the time they
were accused were sent for treat-
ment, 45.9 percent of whom were

the faith
suspended. (This amounts to 286
and 241, respectively, as this does
not take into account those priests
who were dead, laicized or had
already retired. Excluded from
the figure of the 1,671 were those
who were exonerated.) But the
study also reveals the awful fail-
ings of the system: no action was
taken in 4.2 percent of cases, and
11 percent of the time priests were
"reprimanded and returned" to
their regular lives.
Sexual abuse is
not in line with
Catholic belief.
I am more than willing to
believe that a great deal of the fin-
ger-pointing and selective report-
age stems from anti-Catholicism,
as the Pope has alleged. After
all, child abuse is contrary to the
Catholic faith, which emphasizes
self-sacrifice and noble deeds for
the sake of your own soul and
the souls around you. And, put
off by the Church's social teach-
ing, many do not believe that it's
a loving religion in the first place.
There's nothing I can do about
that, except pray and be courte-
ous. As a wise priest recently told
me, you can plunge into the deep-
est depths of theology and still
run headlong into mystery.
But - and here I speak to my
fellow Catholics, including and
especially the fair-weather sort
- we must, when necessary,
apologize on behalf of bishops
who did cover for abusers. Let's
send a public message that some
so-called Catholics have failed in
their church, which is ancient and
powerful and, yes, loving. And, if
you are interested in victim advo-
cacy, these cases will have the
potential for you to make amazing
differences in people's lives.
You may wonder if, given all of
the demands and rules, there are
still living, breathing, faithful Cath-
olics stumbling around. Some days
I, too, wonder why I have chosen
such a path for myself. But then I
realize that it, of course, chose me.
And because of this, I will fight for
the children, for the victims, for the
innocent priests and for the inno-
cent in general until I go to, you
know, Heaven - hopefully.
- Anna Paone can be reached
at apaone@umich.edu.

They couldn't have been spies. Just look
what they did with the hydrangeas."
- Jessie Gugig, regarding the arrests of her neighbors Richard and Cynthia Murphy, two of the eleven people
arrested this week in connection with a Russian spy ring, as reported yesterday by The New York Times.

A priority on playtime

y roommate Adam often
accuses me of work-
ing "too hard." I find
this silly - if I
have work to do,
I intend to do it.
Last year, as the
methodic tap- 4
ping of my fin-
gers attacking the
keyboard brought
the tension in the TYLER
room to a boil- JONES
ing point, Adam
would spring
from his seat and say, "You know
what? I think it's time to play some
basketball!"
"Basketball? Now? Listen bud,
I don't know about you, but I have
work here, and there is simply
no time to play," I would protest.
Defeated, Adam would slink back
into his chair, and I would cap off
my Arabic studies with a quick revi-
sion of my Great Books paper.
But these summer months off
have taught me something I couldn't
have learned if I hadn't put the work
away from time to time: play (and
all the dangers of procrastination
that accompany it) is a necessity for
the human brain. From the healthy
development of children to the san-
ity of University students, decades of
research indicate that play is essential
for the cognitive, physical and emo-
tional development of individuals.
I have always operated under the
assumption that if I'm not working
I'm wasting time. Perhaps it's the
years of academic conditioning and
a depressingly thin social life that
has developed such a slave-driver
mentality. But a study conducted
by the American Academy for Pedi-
atrics suggests that play "is inte-
gral to the academic environment."
Furthermore, play has been shown
to help individuals (including anx-
ious incoming freshmen) adjust to

school settings and enhance learn-
ing readiness. But as initiatives like
No Child Left Behind continue to
force American schools to prioritize
and as manic college students anx-
iously prepare for the rest of their
lives, the value of play seems to have
been forgotten.
Today, children are indoctrinat-
ed into a society that demands and
preaches achievement. Even before
birth, programs like Baby Mozart
are used to help children, still unable
to speak, develop spatial intelligence,
creativity and memory. In many
schools, No Child Left Behind has
indirectly incentivized administra-
tors to do away with recess, creative
arts and physical education classes.
Viewed by many as irrelevant, these
valuable times to run and create and
play have been replaced with extra
study sessions.
But what lawmakers and teachers
alike fail to understand is that some
of the most valuable learning is tak-
ing place outside the classroom. The
American Academy of Pediatrics
goes on to explain that undirected
play teaches children to work in
groups, share, negotiate, resolve
conflicts and develop self-advocacy
skills. Perhaps parents should scrap
their volumes of Baby Mozart, can-
cel the extra tutoring session and
allow children to do what they do
best: play.
Because lawmakers and educa-
tors clearly aren't taking up the
cause, an organization known
as Right To Play has become the
unofficial flagbearer for playtime
everywhere. With a presence in 23
countries, Right To Play uses games
to cross ethnic, cultural, gender
and linguistic barriers in order
to enhance child development.
Though you may scoff at these lofty
goals, the results reported on the
group's website speak for them-
selves: according to a 40-year-old
EDITORIAL BOARD MEMBERS:

refugee from Benin, "For us par-
ents, Right To Play is in fact a whole
school. Right To Play complements
what school does not give, what we
parents are unable to give our chil-
dren."
The human
brain needs a
chance to recover.
According to school principals
in Azerbaijan, student attendance
increased 35 to 20 percent as a result
of Right To Play programming.
Furthermore, parents and teach-
ers in Tanzania noted that children
are more diplomatic and less vio-
lent after playing games and learn-
ing how to communicate. Perhaps
American lawmakers and educators
can learn from Tanzania, Benin and
the rest of the Right To Play commu-
nity: The skills learned when one is
engaged in play may not be quanti-
fiable - there is no "teamwork" sec-
tion on the SAT. But the real-world
applications of these skills, not to
mention the resultant increase in
productivity, cannot be ignored by
those whose job it is to educate and
better our nation's children.
Adam persisted and I eventually
played basketball. It took us thirty
minutes of sports to learn what
American lawmakers and educators
still do not grasp: time away from
work is not time wasted. The human
brain cannot operate on all cylinders
without time to recuperate. So, on
behalf of the inner eight-year-old in
all of us, put the work down, find a
game of basketball and play.
- Tyler Jones can be reached
at tylerlij@umich.edu.

Nicholas Clift, Rachel Van Gilder, Emma Jeszke, Harsha Panduranga, Joe Stapleton

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