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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Diocese must not care about Cheektowaga pupils

Catholic students of Cheektowaga, pack your book bags and head off to the nearest public school. And parents, don't even think of trying to provide your children a Catholic education.

The most recent list of school closings has shown to all what the Buffalo Diocese thinks of Cheektowaga and neighboring areas.

Parents from three of the schools -- in both Buffalo and Cheektowaga -- had a plan formulated to combine and create one new school; a great idea, or so I thought. Instead of giving it a chance, trying it for one year to see how it goes, the diocese said no way.

Yet St. Stanislaus, with a mere 75 students, will stay open. I guess the $3 million in renovations spent on that church has helped the school stay open. The diocese should not wonder why there are fewer families attending church.

Barb Brader



All Catholic schools stress morals, values

With regard to the article about the Catholic school closings, I must take exception with Susan Skoney's observance that if St. Edmund closes, switching to a larger, more regional Catholic school will be the same as a public school but with tuition and uniforms. My daughter attends SS. Peter and Paul in Williamsville. I send her to a Catholic school because I like the fact that she is taught morals and values. The classrooms may be smaller, but that is not my deciding factor.

She learns about God, prays before meals and is held responsible for her actions. When a family member is sick, it is announced on the speaker and the principal asks the students to pray for the individual. Everyone is part of a family at this school.

Obviously, a Catholic school is not for people who don't have religious beliefs, but I am a devout Catholic and I am proud to send my daughter to this wonderful school. The teachers and the principal are excellent and the students excel in academics.

The diocese must consolidate, but people should not be scared to send their child to a different Catholic school because of closings. The children get a wonderful education.

Barbara Burgett



Vouchers would help boost enrollment

The story on the closing of 14 more Catholic elementary schools shows the continued trend of the potential elimination of most private education. The Buffalo Diocese at one time had 100,000 students; now the number is 18,000. The news report missed the cause of this declining enrollment.

Parents are required to pay continually higher school taxes, yet if they choose a Catholic school, they must also pay the added cost of tuition. Many cannot afford both. Why can't the parents who choose to send their children to a Catholic school receive an education tax credit or a school voucher? Or is education going to become a complete government monopoly?

Does anyone have a reasonable answer to any of these three questions? Why is the National Education Association so afraid of competition? Why is the Democratic Party so hostile to Catholic parents and so opposed to choice in education? Why are Catholics so timid in fighting for a share of their education taxes?

Glenn Grundtisch



We certainly aren't winning hearts, minds

A few days ago, I saw a disheartening series of images documenting the worst effects of the war on American soldiers and Iraqis. It was sickening to see brains leaking out of broken skulls, faces ripped off, torsos severely lacerated and what I presume to be body parts burned beyond recognition. Parents sobbed as they held what the Bush administration considers "collateral damage" -- children missing limbs or possessing gross deformities.

Do we really believe that by slaughtering Iraqis we are promoting democracy and winning over hearts and minds? Why do the media continue to euphemize this war as "Freedom on the March?" What -- the freedom to die a gruesome death?

Anyone who believes that we are doing the Iraqis a favor is deluding himself beyond description. We have invaded a sovereign nation without justification, slaughtered tens of thousands of civilians, ignited a bloody civil war, emboldened Iran and North Korea, put young American soldiers at risk and destroyed our nation's credibility. Why is it that our government continues to condone this atrocity?

Chris Willett



President is incapable of mourning war dead

On Sept. 9, 2004, in a scathing essay titled "The Unfeeling President," brilliant American novelist and historian E.L. Doctorow insists that President Bush is incapable of understanding either human suffering or the profound meaning of death; that he does not sincerely mourn the American soldiers simply because he does not know how to mourn.

Doctorow reminds us that after more than 1,000 American soldiers and countless Iraqi civilians had been killed in 2004, Bush performed an insensitive slapstick comic routine for the amusement of members of the press: He pretended to look under tables for weapons of mass destruction.

While planning to send 21,000 more troops to a broken and dangerous Iraq, where they will struggle in order to survive in the midst of a civil war hell that he provoked, this war president, with tear-filled eyes, joined the grieving family of the heroic Cpl. Jason Dunham, a man whose noble instincts -- on the battlefield or off -- were directed at the preservation of life, not the taking of it. Doctorow writes of Bush: "With each president the nation is conformed spiritually. He is a figure of such moral vacancy as to make us mourn for ourselves."

Tom Weise

Petty Officer First Class U.S. Navy, Retired



Bush will never admit he was wrong about war

The United States does not have the forces that are necessary to bring order to Iraq while taking care of our other interests throughout the world and at home. This becomes more obvious every day as our soldiers fight just to keep things from getting worse. More troops are being sent but they are too few.

The war in Iraq has become a global problem. The only solution is to ask for help from the international community. President Bush will never do this. He would have to admit his mistakes and humbly ask for help. These are things that only a true leader would do. American soldiers are paying the price for the pride of Bush.

Richard White

Orchard Park


Lying uncle should be charged as accomplice

I was appalled as I read in The News the myriad of lame excuses offered by Wilfredo Sanchez Caraballo, the uncle of the alleged Bike Path Rapist, as to why he lied to the police 26 years ago and in fact prevented the police from solving the rape they were then investigating. His attitude is reprehensible!

My heart goes out to all of the poor victims and their families and friends, who would not have been put through this terrible ordeal and suffered extreme physical and mental pain if Caraballo had done the honorable thing and told the truth when questioned.

"For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction." He enabled his nephew to allegedly continue on his twisted path of rape and murder. I believe Caraballo should be charged as an accomplice in each and every crime the Bike Path Rapist committed from that day forward.

When are we, as a community, going to join together and fight for changes in the Constitution that will protect the rights of the victims instead of the criminals?

Peggy Belliotti



Create major case squad to solve heinous crimes

Euphoria has been expressed by law enforcement agencies, media and the public relating to the apprehension of the Bike Path Rapist. The police deserve all the accolades that have been bestowed. It also points to what can be accomplished when the law enforcement community joins forces to solve our most heinous crimes.

Buffalo Detective Dennis Delano did superb work in providing a name and address for a suspect, and forwarding the information to Amherst police. The scientific evidence gathered by Amherst police and processed by the Erie County Forensic Lab has led us all to breathe a sigh of relief with a suspect in custody.

While the cooperation is still fresh in our minds, we need to seriously consider forming a major case squad for all of Erie County under the auspices of Erie County Police Services. With many advances in forensics, we need to bring our law enforcement capabilities up to speed with the rest of the world. Pooling our law enforcement expertise into a countywide major case squad would bring together high-quality personnel, adequate funding and a cohesive unit to serve all county residents with the same expertise and dedication as some of the bigger police departments.

William J. Logal



Clinton set her sights on White House long ago

How gullible New York State voters were. They believed that Hillary Clinton sought re-election as senator in November because she honestly intended to work to improve the life of all state citizens. This was her promise. Now, only two months after re-election, she has announced that she wants to be president of the United States and will run for that office in 2008.

I find it very difficult to comprehend why she was re-elected. She was not an effective senator in her first term, and it was obvious that she had no intention of conscientiously working for her constituents in a second term. Her goal all along was to use her position as a steppingstone to the White House.

Do we want Clinton as president when she has not effectively represented her state constituents? Will she effectively represent the citizens of our nation? Do we want Clinton as president when she proves that she does not intend to follow through on her promises in New York State? Will she follow through on her promises as president? Do we want Clinton as president when she is using us as a steppingstone for higher office? Who else will she step on to get what she wants?

Stella L. Ryndak

North Tonawanda


Clinton would be a terrible president

It's interesting to note that eight Arab countries -- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan and Egypt -- have declared their support for President Bush's plan to increase the number of troops in Iraq by 21,000.

Yet here at home, Sen. Hillary Clinton would back a congressional "resolution" to register "disapproval" of the president's initiative. What an incredibly blind, spineless and harmful idea -- to tell our troops, in effect, that we do not support their mission.

Even further, she would like to propose a vote to "cap" the number of U.S. soldiers in Iraq at its present level -- the kind of decision that generals and commanders-in-chief have to make in the fluid dynamics of an ongoing war. I think Clinton has made it plain that she is not the person to lead this country in the White House.

Dan Mattimore

West Seneca


Slepian was a loving, compassionate man

To the author of a Jan. 15 letter, I, too, am against abortion. Dr. Barnett Slepian was my gynecologist and was a very compassionate, loving man. There are no similarities between him and James Kopp.

Slepian performed legal abortions, whether or not we approve or disapprove. Kopp is a cold-blooded murderer, which is not legal. This premeditated heinous murder was committed in Slepian's home in front of his wife and two of his sons! That's absolutely unforgivable and inexcusable.

Nancy Saul



How can pro-lifers support death penalty?

I'm wondering if the author of a Jan. 15 letter about James Kopp and Dr. Barnett Slepian sees the irony in it? He states, "The similarity is that both are guilty of extinguishing life. The difference is that Kopp killed one, while Slepian killed many. That is not offered in defense of Kopp. In fact, to emphasize the value I put on human life, I think Kopp's deed requires the death penalty." I am always amazed at how many good Christian pro-lifers are such strong supporters of the death penalty.

Like it or not, Slepian was performing a legal act. Kopp chose to show his displeasure with that by murdering Slepian in his own home, in front of his family. If anyone can make the point that somehow those two acts are related, as to moral certitude and righteousness, then you really need to take a good, hard look at yourself in the mirror.

And if you consider yourself to be pro-life relative to abortion, again based on the supposed high moral ground, but then staunchly support the death penalty, once again, take a good long look in the mirror and ask yourself honestly if you aren't just a bit guilty of "cherry picking" your moral outrage.

Paul Christopher


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