Letters

Letters from the issue of Thursday, July 21, 2005

Sins of the Father

Family friend: I read "Altar Ego" and was blown away by it (Robert Nelson, July 7). My goodness, your writer is one of the bravest souls I know. His style of writing keeps everyone panting for more.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for giving poor Irene a voice from the grave.

And, Robert, thank you so terribly much for your compassion, your dedication, and for a tremendous showing of what good journalism is about. If you were here, I would hug you silly. God bless you, my friend.
Noemi Ponce-Sigler, cousin of murder victim Irene Garza, Edinburg, Texas

Safe harbor: Unbelievable what the Roman Catholic Church was doing all those years. We had no idea. Rehabilitate a priest who has murdered a young woman! Now that takes the cake.

I rarely read a story about bad priests anymore, because I feel I have read all there is to say. I know that so many members of the priesthood are pedophiles. And I know about the cover-up from the pope down.

But what I didn't know was that the church harbored murderers. And I use the plural, because we don't know how many times this has happened.

I just can't get over it! The church hierarchy actually thought it could fix a serial sexual abuser priest who killed somebody. What kind of twisted logic is that?

My eyes almost popped out when I read that the priest who was giving Feit therapy in the monastery told him to go up behind young women "as a test" and see if he could bring himself not to rape or murder them. Did it occur to this Father Emmanuel that Feit might commit still another crime? For all we know, he did. The church would never let on.

This story makes me think the church hasn't got an ounce of decency. It makes me question everything the new pope does.
George Barrera, Dallas

Conscience-stricken: I just read the article about the ex-priest. All I can say is wow! My mouth dropped open when I read this. This is incredible. I can't believe that John Feit can walk on this Earth, have a family of his own and wake up in the morning with no care in the world. I say a white lie to my husband about how much I spend at Circles Records down the street and feel guilty.

I enjoy reading the stories that New Times puts out. They are all based on facts. You and other staff members don't hold back any punches.
Rosemary Bolnado, Phoenix

Is excommunication in your future?: That is an amazing story on John Feit. I've printed copies for all my family -- even the Catholics. As always, brilliant writing by Robert Nelson.
Jason Schock, Falls City, Nebraska

Priests gone bad: I am sick and tired of reading stories about priests gone bad. Do the media have a fascination with such stories? These articles make it seem that all priests are bad, and nothing could be further from the truth!

I started out as an altar boy in the church back home in Chicago and have been a faithful Catholic ever since. I have never encountered a pedophile priest, much less a murdering priest. Sometimes I think the media just make this stuff up to make the church look bad and to sell papers.

You may think I'm crazy to say this, but there are a lot of Catholic haters out there. Except for possibly Jews, Catholics are the most picked-on religious group. And all these stories about bad apples in the barrel aren't helping things.
Bill Krause, Peoria

Out for justice: Poor Irene Garza! The girl goes to the church to find counsel and peace and winds up murdered by a man of the cloth. And then, the priest's supervisor knows full well what went on and does nothing for 40-plus years. If you hadn't presented so many indisputable facts, I would think this could be the makings of a Hollywood movie. Pure fiction, and nothing more.

What I want to know is, how does this ex-priest live with himself? I remember how the priest who counseled him in the monastery said the murderer seemed unfazed by what he had done. That he had no remorse. Maybe that explains how he can just start over in Phoenix and act like nothing happened.

If this guy gets prosecuted -- and if there's a God in heaven, he will -- it will be reminiscent of those Nazi war-crimes trials. That is, where somebody hunts down some murdering Nazi decades after atrocities were committed and forces justice to happen. In this case, it was Irene Garza's cousin who wouldn't let the killer get away with it.
Lacie Grant, via the Internet

Triumph of the spirit: Thank God for Noemi Ponce-Sigler! I'm sure Irene Garza is looking down from heaven and smiling. Without the door-knocking by Irene's cousin, Noemi, Irene's story never would have been told 45 years later.

If John Feit is arrested for murder, it will be Noemi's doing. She just wouldn't let the case drop, and that is what it takes when the Catholic Church is there blocking investigators' efforts. What a brave woman! I just hope that McAllen DA Rene Guerra comes around and takes this case seriously, or that the feds take it over and bring Feit to trial.

Congratulations to Robert Nelson for writing this article in such a compelling way. The story was all the more poignant because it was so well-told.
Pauline Dent, Corpus Christi, Texas

Voice of experience: You wrote in "Altar Ego" about the mournful sound of Irene Garza's mother upon hearing her child was murdered. Sadly, I know this sound; I heard it come out of my own mouth when a detective told me my Vanessa was beaten to death.

You drop to your knees because you feel the most immense pain, and then you hear that unholy moan, and it takes you a minute to even realize that this horrible sound is coming from yourself. But this sound doesn't come from your body. This horrible sound is your soul screaming out when it has been touched by pure evil.

And for months your soul literally hurts trying to spit out this evil. For me, the only way to rid my soul of this pain was realizing that violence begets violence. So it stands to reason that love and kindness beget love and kindness. I showed love and kindness in the hope my soul could recover. It did recover, but not without leaving a scar.

How do I know that evil is to blame? Because only evil would snuff out a light as bright as the light of God that radiated from Vanessa, and from Irene Garza. Someone who has even a spark of God's light would never even think of snuffing a light so bright.

As far as justice goes, it's a myth to think you will get peace of mind or satisfaction from it. The only thing justice gave me was closure to move on with my life and my family's lives. My Vanessa was Vanessa Cruz, 25. She was murdered on February 11, 2001. Her murderer got 20 years in an Arizona prison with no parole.

But thanks for seeking truth and justice for a screaming soul.
Loretta Bigness, via the Internet

Be cool, Robert: I literally couldn't put down "Altar Ego," which reads like a detective novel. Only the subject matter is true, and that is frightening! How could the church harbor this guy all these years? He makes the average pedophile in the church look like a saint.

Seriously, Robert Nelson could be the next Elmore Leonard. Your guy's storytelling ability is second to none.
Jason Griswold, Tucson

Live and let live: Why can't the world forgive John Feit? It's obvious that God has by letting him work for the poor for decades. What Feit said about himself is true: The man who lived in south Texas in 1960 is dead.

I'm sad for Irene Garza and her family, but I'm also sad for John Feit and his family, because now he could be sent to prison, and that will serve no purpose. He has already been rehabilitated, as his good deeds in Phoenix prove.
Name withheld by request

The Gift of Life

Spreading donor awareness: The man in Speakeasy who had a heart transplant was weird ("Have a Heart," Robrt L. Pela, June 30). Since the transplant, he has been listening to jazz music and eating salad. Something he never did, but his donor did. That is definitely weird.

However, a man who wears a diaper like a 2-year-old, a 2-year-old girl, for that matter, is much weirder ("Baby Man," Joe Watson, June 9).

To me, however, someone's beliefs are not as important as his actions. I think it's great that Bill Wohl is spreading donor awareness. So much of the human body is wasted by being left in a box. It makes me sad that one person has to die and sadder that another has to die because they didn't get around to getting a donor card.

The real problem is partly with the person who dies. He or she gets too busy to put their affairs in order, and then they fall off a ladder or something. The second half of the problem lies with the family who is usually traumatized by the incident and refuses to allow the organs to go to a needy person missing a kidney.

People need a healthy reminder that life is short, and that someday they will be dead. The choice is: Let my personal fears and procrastination get in the way, or give someone else a life.
Mene Tekel, Phoenix

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