Sunday, January 19, 2003

Hartford paper surveys priests

Recent sex scandals have severely tarnished the halos of Catholic priests. In the wake of one scandal after another, the image of the genial, saintly cleric has given way to that of a lonely, dispirited figure living an unhealthy life that breeds sexual deviation.

But Cesaro, who looks far younger than his 73 years, is upbeat about his profession and his health, including a good diet, regular exercise and a vibrant social life.

"I don't know how you can miss being happy," he said. "There are very few people who have this much impact on people's lives, this much trust, this much being able to affect people - to be with them from the time of birth to death, and everything in between. So, it's a very satisfying thing to do."

Cesaro's view reflects those of many priests in the Archdiocese of Hartford. Priests who responded to a Courant survey acknowledge the impact of the recent scandals, and report that there is no end of work - especially with fewer priests to share the load. Yet, by and large, they count themselves healthy and happy.

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