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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

All Christian communities should be viewed the same

It's discouraging to see Pope Benedict XVI's recent decree that non-Catholic Christian communities are not really churches because they lack apostolic succession.

Jesus did not make apostolic succession a mark of his church. He said to John the Baptists disciples, "Go and tell what you see: the blind recover their sight, the poor hearing the good news." Carrying on these ministries of Jesus is the mark of the true church. Did Jesus ordain the apostles when he said, "As the Father sent me, so I send you"?

In Paul's letters to the churches he founded, there's no indication that he formally ordained their members.

For centuries there was rivalry between Rome and Byzantium, Both claim to be the true successor to the apostles. In the 15th century, three popes claimed the papacy: They were deposed by the Council of Constance which named a new pope, Martin V. So much for apostolic succession.

There is room for honest dialogue between the Catholic Church and other Christian communions. It needn't be derailed by pointless quibbling over apostolic succession.

Kenneth J. Rummenie

East Aurora


Pope's statement was misinterpreted

So much is being said about the statement made by Pope Benedict XVI regarding Catholicism and the true faith. We must remember he is speaking of the Roman Catholic church. The word Catholic could mean Orthodox, Greek or even Anglo Catholic. We know that some non-Roman Catholic churches say the creed just as the Roman Catholic church does, "I believe in one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church," etc. When the Roman Empire embraced Christianity and united the then-Christian communities, it became the Roman Catholic Church.

The clergy in most main stream non-Roman Catholic churches can trace its lineage to the apostles. Martin Luther was a Roman Catholic priest as well, as were the first clergy in the Church of England. They just broke away from the church of Rome. We have a personal perception of God as Christians, Jews, Muslims and so on. We just follow different rules and take different paths.

Paul Pietrzak

Orchard Park


A waterfront truck stop would be a big mistake

What on earth is Congressman Brian Higgins thinking? He would advocate for 50-plus acres of pavement in a neighborhood? He seems like he is carrying more water for the Peace Bridge Authority than for us. Our "waterfront champion" is supporting nothing more than a big truck plaza on our waterfront.

Higgins says he favors waterfront access, yet a big truck plaza in the West Side neighborhood puts more unnecessary, diesel-soot spewing infrastructure next to historic Front Park and forever eliminates access to the highest point on the river in Buffalo -- the Fort Porter Bluff. How many Western New Yorkers will appreciate lake and river views from the middle of a truck plaza next to our park and on the bluff?

Higgins supports what will become the third prong of the big three mistakes -- the UB North Campus, a suburban Bills stadium and now a giant truck stop on our waterfront. No thanks. We've delayed the project this long; champion the completion of shared border management, not neighborhood mismanagement.

Jason Miller

Town of Niagara


Higgins deserves our support on bridge plans

If planning studies and lawsuits could magically transform into steel and concrete, the Peace Bridge (and dozens of other projects) would be complete by now. But the Peace Bridge will never be built if we do not stop deferring tough decisions or allowing our future to be determined by others.

Congressman Brian Higgins' recent push for immediate progress to build a Peace Bridge that increases lane capacity and puts the plaza on the American side to ensure better access to jobs and investment is exactly right. Other elected and community "leaders" -- the ones who have delayed this project needlessly for the past 15 years -- need to finally see the light and join Higgins in supporting action and progress over litigation and delay. The time to act is now.

Gregory Gareau



Closing St. Ann's makes little sense

While I applaud the bishop of Buffalo for his ambitious attempt to contain spiraling costs while servicing his flock, I must question the logic behind some of the decisions. St. Ann's Church is one of the most architecturally significant buildings in Buffalo. The location is proximate to downtown, yet it serves a community of residents within walking distance.

Recently, there has been much discussion about the bishop's own residence. May I suggest closing St. Joseph's Old Cathedral and selling the bishop's mansion and relocating both locations to St. Ann's? The cathedral lacks parking and does not service a residential community. The location would certainly draw high dollars from any investor. The bishop's residence would capture over $800,000 based on similar structures on his street.

St. Ann's is large, architecturally significant, easily accessible and has a rectory very suitable for priestly living. Let's walk the talk, Bishop Kmiec, and service your people where it is needed and in a manner that makes common sense.

Jim Frank



Give the bishop a break during painful changes

Recent letters regarding the downsizing of the Diocese of Buffalo's brick and mortar facilities have gotten out of hand, with the unfounded criticism and, in some cases, personal attacks on Bishop Edward Kmiec.

The hypocrisy of suburban critics is especially astounding. After all, it was they who abandoned once viable neighborhoods to the blight that infests much of the City of Buffalo. Now that it is too late, they criticize a man dealing with a problem that has festered for many years.

Regarding politicians, they are the last who should criticize the bishop. They should instead be studying closely the decision-making of a responsible and realistic vicar. Western New Yorkers are paying the price of their political hypocrisy, stupidity and lack of moral courage. But, of course, it is ultimately the fault of the people who have elected them and then amazingly re-elect them.

James F. Smeader



Hungarians were nearly left out in closings

Church closings and mergers are enormously difficult and painful for all involved. However, the process sometimes turns out to be more painful than necessary. A bit more sensitivity could have gone a long way to ease the added difficulties of "ethnic" Catholics.

The demolition of the Assumption Hungarian Church in Lackawanna last year, and the merger of St. Elizabeth of Hungary Church with a nearby parish left the area's Hungarian community with no place to continue their tradition of worshipping in their own language. The Hungarian flags were removed to the merged church, however, ironically, worship in the language was denied there. Thus Hungarians were asked to give up not only the building that was established by Hungarians 101 years ago, but were told to leave their language behind too.

Worshipping in one's own language is no longer a linguistic necessity but it is an emotionally and spiritually uplifting experience. The tremendous musical treasure in hymns and songs enriches the multiethnic tapestry of our Christianity and should be encouraged as long as possible. Good news: a welcoming church community has been found and Bishop Kmiec has granted permission to continue worship in Hungarian.

Elizabeth Horvath



An Alden Wal-Mart would be near ruinous

A Wal-Mart in Alden would be a major mistake. It is a small quaint peaceful town. Longtime residents came there for that reason. Newer residents who argue for it think that it is the next best thing to sliced bread. They should have thought about how far the drive was to shop before they moved to Alden.

Yes, Broadway can be enlarged as Ralph Witt of the town planning board stated. Now it is a pleasure to drive, as we do most Sundays. Would that remain so? I think not. A 95-acre project for a superstore and other big box stores would put an end to that. Change and growth are wonderful, but do not ruin a small town's life.

East Aurora fought and won against a Wal-Mart. They had the foresight to envision what could happen. The planning board should think ahead about 25 years. Is Broadway going to be another Niagara Falls Boulevard?

Joan Kirsch



Bush team blunders deepen Mideast mess

Borders do matter. They have meant a great deal in the inability of this administration to seal the Pakistan-Afghanistan border with the needed numbers of military, contain al-Qaida and resolve the issue of that ideological enemy. The shift to Iraq to pound an already defeated and contained problem has bogged down a strained military, wasted resources needed in Afghanistan and birthed the roots of new insurgent cells in the failure after the invasion to close those borders to foreign fighters and smugglers.

The administration has belatedly discovered that our own borders are porous, and open this country to the probability of attack. The administration will only protect the borders of its own paranoid secrecy against common sense and readily available knowledge. The knowledge of customs, tribal/familial and religious/social workings in Iraq and other Middle Eastern nations is and was readily available in our national library system for their use, could the reactionaries have not fed on their belief of their rose-tinted prognostications.

To admit that they were wrong is another border the administration will not cross. At this point in time, our protections under the Constitution are under assault by activist judges and corporate concerns. We have crossed the border into places I thought were improbable after Watergate.

Tom Druelinger

East Aurora


Israel provides safety for unlikely visitors

For all the attempts to paint Israel as the oppressor, the bitter irony is that Gazans desperate to escape the uncompromising barbarism and ruthless brutality of Hamas towards its own people apparently flee not to Egypt, but to the land of Israel through the Erez crossing. Funny, isn't it? Egypt is simply where one goes to smuggle rockets, guns and grenades. Freedom, security, medical care, education and everything else denied Gazans by their own leaders is only found in the hated "Zionist" state and among the Jewish people.

Lawrence M. Ross


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