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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

We can't afford to lose magnificent churches

There was a time when I thought I understood the reasoning behind the diocese's Journey in Faith and Grace, but with the announced closing of St. Ann, St. Adalbert, St. Gerard and St. Francis Xavier, I am no longer sure that I do. These churches represent some of the finest examples of ecclesiastical art and architecture in the city.

It has been said that "great buildings do not occur in isolation, rather they are inspired by other great buildings." How true this is when you consider the work of the stained glass artisans, the painters of murals and frescos, and the sculptors and wood carvers who came together to give us these irreplaceable works of art.

Can we so easily abandon these four churches to the same fate that St. Matthew, Transfiguration and Sacred Heart have experienced? We are constantly reminded that the people are the Church, not the buildings, that after all they are just buildings that can be replaced. Then why did we sacrifice so much to build these magnificent structures? Why did we lavish our talents, imagination and genius on these buildings if they are not so much a part of us and our culture?

Each of these churches is an integral part of the cultural fabric of the entire community. Once lost, we will never experience them again. We will lose a part of our culture that has enriched the lives of us all. This is a loss that none of us can afford.

William F. Koch

Grand Island


Meaning of 'faith-filled' seems to be 'profitable'

Rev. Robert Mock's My View column brings to light exactly why the Journey in Faith and Grace is getting resistance from the faithful. I will grant him that some people are upset about closing beautiful buildings, but many of us are more upset about how the clergy and the diocese define "vibrant and faith-filled communities."

The churchgoer is not blind to the declining numbers. We know that change has to come. However, the decision about which parishes are closed is suspect. Mock articulated the fear we have that the Journey in Faith and Grace is about the clergy and the diocese and not about how to better serve the faithful.

There are, throughout the diocese, groups of laity working on how to move through these difficult times. In Mock's own cluster, the people submitted a plan to the bishop and it was rejected. I can't help but wonder if it was rejected for the convenience of the priests.

The decision to modify the funding formula for elementary schools and eliminate diocesan aid for the high schools is also dubious. Catholic schools have always been about the propagation of the faith as well as about education. Apparently vibrant and faith-filled means profitable.

I pray for the bishop, too. I pray that he sees that the faith is carried forward by the faithful and not the clergy.

Larry McMahon



Truth, objectivity lost amid partisan politics

While evading taxes and lying about acts of treason during wartime lie far apart on the moral spectrum, President Clinton's pardon of Marc Rich was still a disgrace. At the time, Democrats roundly voiced their disapproval, even calling for congressional investigations. The sad/sick thing about the pardon of Lewis "Scooter" Libby is that eight out of 10 Republicans are applauding the maneuver.

This pretty much sums up why corruption is so hard to root out in government. People get so caught up in party rhetoric that they are unable to discern right from wrong, fact from fiction, continually defending the indefensible with half-truths and rationalizations.

These are the Bush enablers, and our country has suffered mightily because of them. We as a country have lost the common ground of objectivity; we are sick and we are divided.

Paul Bradford

West Falls


Bush has a lot of nerve commuting Libby's term

This most recent blatant miscarriage of justice by President Bush to commute the sentence of Lewis "Scooter" Libby, who lied and obstructed justice, should have us all outraged! We must take action now to impeach Bush and Vice President Cheney and bring charges against them to keep them from further withholding the truth of their dastardly deeds from the American people. This rogue administration has no regard for the rule of law or for the Constitution, nor for our standing in the world among other nations.

Bush has shown time and time again that, under the strings of puppet-master Cheney, he will lie, cover up and deceive the American people and the world by rewarding the administration's followers and destroying its dissenters. He does this in order to achieve his objective of control of the oil markets for the Saudis and in the main interest and profits of an oligarchy within select international corporations.

The buck needs to stop here. All evidence asked for by Congress needs to be brought forward. There needs to be transparency as well as accountability in our government, and justice needs to be served for those who are found guilty of crimes, not weasel pardons based on political party bias.

Dennis Caggiano

North Tonawanda


This 'ordinary' guy is doing a lot of damage

One has to wonder how a majority of Americans could have voted for a man who once flaunted his average college grades as a sign that even an ordinary guy could make it to the White House, the same ordinary guy who likes to throw out the challenge to elementary school children not to be ordinary, not to be left behind.

This is the same ordinary guy who waged an elective war against a country that posed no post- 9/1 1 terrorist threat to America, who once questioned the scientific legitimacy of global warming, who took "full responsibility" for the fatally tardy response to Katrina without resigning, who made signing statements in which he refused to execute some 750 laws approved by Congress and who scrupulously avoided a diplomatic approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

And this is the same ordinary guy who has supported the opening of more federal forest lands to developers, approved of warrantless wiretaps, denied habeas corpus rights, commuted a perjurer and vetoed a bill limiting research on stem cells derived from frozen embryos, research that many scientists claim could lead to cures for diseases and spinal cord injuries.

John T. Marohn



President never lets facts get in the way

Get ready, America. President Bush's biggest snow job since, well, the last one, is headed our way. The Washington Post reports that the Iraqi government is unlikely to meet any of the goals Bush set for it when he announced the "surge" in January.

No matter. Officials are gathering "alternative evidence of progress" to persuade Congress to continue supporting this disaster -- oops, I mean war. In other words, because we can't hit the field goal from 40 yards away, let's just move the goal posts up about 25 yards or so. Or better yet, let's simply dispense with trying the kick and just say we made it, OK?

Once again, facts mean absolutely nothing to the Bush administration. All that matters to these people is power and their own arrogant estimation of the stupidity of the American people. Can we possibly fall for it yet again? Are we really this stupid?

David Goddard



Shared border management is still best choice for city

Congressman Brian Higgins' announcement advocating for the immediate construction of a full-blown U.S. Customs Plaza on American soil raises a few key questions. What benefits will the West Side of Buffalo realize from paving over 60 acres of a dense, residential neighborhood? Will this location increase or decrease property values? What mitigation measures will be taken to minimize negative respiratory impacts on already sick and underserved residents? Will the Peace Bridge Authority guarantee it will build a signature bridge? When will it be built?

Segmentation of the bridge from the plaza caused litigation and delay during the last environmental review. The New Millennium Group believes that shared border management is still the best choice for our city. It provides the most benefit and offers the least harm. We ask that our federal delegation pursue a dual tract and work hard for shared border management during the next 18 months of the economic impact statement and demand the best traditional plaza be developed.

If a traditional plaza is our fate, then we must be certain it significantly reverses the negative impacts the current plaza has created. Otherwise, it would be a waste of $400 million.

Patrick McNichol

Spokesman, New Millennium Group of Western New York


Let's build truck bridge farther down the river

The $315 million cost of a new Peace Bridge may not seem like much to Rep. Brian Higgins, $230 million of which will be borrowed. But what then is the full amount, including interest, to build a new bridge? If we borrow from the state or federal government, it's still our money that is paying for it.

Since the span is less than a mile long, why do we need a cable-stayed bridge? The Peace Bridge is well constructed and, other than the enormous truck traffic, it is unnecessary to add a new bridge at that site. A truck bridge farther downriver, where trucks and drivers could have a rest area and restaurant, would be more appropriate.

The Peace Bridge also has a very interesting background. It should be on the National Historic Register. We're spending millions on the Erie Canal and Cobblestone area, so why not preserve a beautifully constructed bridge?

More importantly, when the Peace Bridge was built it caused the current to increase from 4 to 13 miles per hour. Have this and other environmentalissues been thoroughly examined?

Gertrude Christ



Inspection procedures cause delays at bridge

The Peace Bridge does not cause delays; the inspection procedures cause the delays. Another bridge will not alleviate this. I worked in the Customs Service years ago. The agency was in the Middle Ages then, and it remains there now.

It was a mistake to rule against U.S. Customs and Immigration screening on the Canadian side of the bridge, where there is ample room. The legal rationale for such a ruling is specious. Various proposals for inspection on the U.S. side of the bridge are complicated. Why not do it the simplest way?

Bedros (Pete) Odian



AMA has plan to expand health care coverage

The American Medical Association is in full support of health coverage for all Americans, (" 'Sicko' rallies push on health care," July 10 News).

The AMA has a plan for expanding health care coverage that builds on what is great in our health care system -- world-class medical innovations and research and health care professionals dedicated to the health of patients. Our proposal focuses on increasing access to affordable health insurance options and advocating for tax credits, based on income level, for the purchase of health insurance.

Our nation's health care system is far from perfect and the AMA and the physicians of America are consistently working to improve it. But we don't believe the only solution is to give up and turn our health care system over to the government under a single-payersystem.

By building on the strengths of our current system and expanding coverage, we can ensure that all Americans will have access to high-quality andaffordable health care.

Nancy H. Nielsen, M.D.


American Medical Association

Orchard Park

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