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Everybody's Column

Look up the meaning of 'ethnic cleansing'

Absurd. That is the only term that accurately describes the state of area politics. Common Council President David A. Franczyk and his colleagues recently passed a resolution that took the Diocese of Buffalo to task for closing some churches in the city, stating there exists a "whiff of ethnic cleansing" in the process.

Two members, Richard Fontana and Brian Davis, objected to this language but still voted for the resolution. The Council worried that "dangerous, gutted eyesores" may result from the sale of these properties. Also, Franczyk stated that if the church is short of money perhaps it should sell the Vatican. Absurd.

Why is Franczyk pandering to his district by pointing to the church when the decline of his area is the result of inaction, lack of ideas and lack of courage developing ideas to revitalize our city?

The diocese surely regrets the need to close these facilities and it has been a painful process. "Ethnic cleansing." Do some research on Bosnia, Darfur, Rwanda, the Soviet Gulag and the Third Reich before besmirching an institution struggling with a painful process. Franczyk should learn what the term means before using it.

John J. Pilato Sr.



Look at neighborhoods, not just the churches

The lawmakers of Buffalo are correct to want assurance from the diocese not to sell shuttered churches to unscrupulous buyers who would leave behind "dangerous, gutted eyesores." We have to look only at the wonderful job the city fathers have done in preserving the neighborhoods on the East Side of Buffalo.

Let's just take one example: the neighborhood around St. Adalbert's Church. People from the suburbs are clamoring to buy homes on Loepere, Mill and Woltz streets. You can walk down those streets at any time of the day and feel safe.

We can never forget this is Councilman David Franczyk's district. Is it any wonder that the Buffalo Common Council voted for him to become its president? What a great choice.

I ask that the people of the City of Buffalo and the nearby suburbs drive down these streets so you can see the results of Franczyk's efforts to keep his district free from "dangerous, gutted eyesores."

Rev. Msgr. George B. Yiengst

Pastor, St. Pius X Catholic Church



Closing of churches is sad, but necessary

I'm Catholic, and I'm not certain that the people in charge of Church decisions, on any level, always get it right. Maybe that makes me a bad Catholic. But as a Buffalonian, I'm appalled by David Franczyk's recent choice of words about rightsizing the Diocese of Buffalo. Closing churches with low attendance because too few priests are available to serve them or because the parish can't support the building may be a lot of undesirable things, but it's not "ethnic cleansing."

Is it "ethnic cleansing" when fire companies or police precincts are shuttered because of dwindling resources? Are the Church's hospitals and countless human service agencies within the city -- serving people regardless of ethnicity or religious belief -- not a sign of its commitment?

Church buildings result when people of a faith community need a place to celebrate that faith. I'm sure Bishop Edward Kmiec would love to find himself faced with the need to staff new parishes because enough Catholics -- as evidenced by Mass attendance, baptisms and other visible indicators -- created such a need.

In the meantime, until it sees the wisdom of ordaining married men, the Church needs to apportion its dwindling "priest power" as best it can. Is it a desirable situation? No, but it certainly isn't ethnic cleansing.

Stephen Jakiel



Council is responsible for hundreds of eyesores

I read where Common Council President David Franczyk has the audacity to harshly criticize the Catholic Diocese's painful decision to downsize the number of schools and churches in the city. He actually called the process "ethnic cleansing." How dare he.

Perhaps Franczyk should visit the sights of the Bosnian mass graves and view the rotting corpses before making such asinine comments. It seems terribly ironic that these words come from a member of a do-nothing group of politicians who cannot build a bridge, cannot move the waterfront development forward, cannot even tear down abandoned houses in the city until a firefighter is almost killed in the line of duty.

Maybe the Council should offer to pay the heating bills or front the repair costs of these magnificent but aging structures -- which are not "dangerous, gutted eyesores" in the city. In fact, it is the Council that bears the responsibility for the hundreds of real eyesores of abandoned houses that pockmark this once beautiful city.

Get back to work, Mr. Franczyk. Do something productive. Better yet, go to confession. You have sinned.

George McNally



People of all ethnicities are affected by changes

I can understand why people are upset when they find out that their church is being closed or merged. What the parishioners forget is what it takes to keep a parish open. You have to consider the amount of money it takes to operate a church. If the diocese was committing ethnic cleansing, St. Adalbert's soup kitchen, the Response To Love Center, would also be closing when the church closes. Keeping the Response to Love Center open is proof that the needs of the parish community are being considered.

To say that the diocese and the bishop are slighting Polish Catholics when implementing the Journey in Faith and Grace is wrong. Many Catholics are dealing with these changes. The changes are broad-based and affect all Catholics regardless of their ethnicity. We as Catholics need to draw on our faith and remember that we can bring our talents and ethnicity to our new church, and enrich the parishioners of that church. After all, we are all children of God regardless of our heritage.

Patricia Binner



What is Franczyk's plan to keep parishes open?

After reading about the "ethnic cleansing" resolution drafted by Common Council President David Franczyk, these questions come to mind:

1.) How dare he insult true victims of ethnic cleansing?

2.) Since he unjustly accuses decent people of the diocese of ethnic cleansing, how would he feel if, just as unfairly, he were accused of being a Neo-Nazi?

3.) Exactly what is his solution to the lack of parishioners, priests and money needed to keep these parishes open?

Catholics should not have to endure this type of Catholic bashing. Answers to these questions should be forthcoming.

Patty Doyle


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