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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Pope's position on churches will only fuel fire of bigotry

I love my many Catholic friends and am awed by the beauty of the Catholic faith. I also respect the pope. And I'm sure that at the highest levels of religious and theological discourse, leaders will work out the significance of the pope's recent remarks.

As a 60-year-old Jew, I am terribly concerned about the school children. In the 1950s, my classmates and playmates constantly taunted me, "You're Jewish, so you killed Christ!" and "You're Jewish, so you're going to hell!"

It scarred me. I felt that I was barely tolerated in my school, neighborhood, and nation. Though the Vatican has done a good job, as to the "Christ killer" epithet, I'm worried that the recent pronouncement will refuel the "You're Jewish, so you're going to hell!" playground talk.

No matter how profoundly one holds a belief that one's own particular faith is the only road to salvation, the little kids who are in the religious minority ought not to be subjected to the hurtful conclusions that filter down from comments meant for a more sophisticated audience.

I hope that my friends in the Catholic clergy and community will make sure that it doesn't happen here, in Buffalo, in this day and age.

Michael J. Kaplan



Pope is reflecting the truth of religion

Every year a new Christian church makes the news, using Scripture to support belief in snake handling, a messianic space ship, reincarnation, mind control or other bizarre doctrines. Keep these Christian churches in mind as you read Pope Benedict's recent statements about the Church and truth.

Most Christians agree that some Christian churches (like Moonies) have less truth than others (like Lutherans). But if some churches have less truth, that means some churches have more truth than others. It is possible one church might have the most truth. Some Protestant leaders have given partial endorsement to the pope, because he at least is putting truth as the basis of what all churches should seek. The pope rejects the American idea that all religions are created equal.

Paul T. Dlugosz



Focus on plaza design before Peace Bridge

Now that the federal government has ruled against "shared border management," a larger bridge approach plaza will have to be designed before work can finally begin on construction of a new bridge to supplement or replace the existing Peace Bridge. The design should be the responsibility of a very small select group of people who are proven experts in this field. As is shown by recent history, community involvement and debate will result in no agreement on a final plan.

Space is more limited on this side of the river and one way to better utilize the space is to eliminate the duty-free stores and the currency exchange area. I don't believe there are very many people who understand the political or legal rationale that allows a very small group of people to evade or avoid taxes and duties just because they live close to or cross an international border. The rest of us taxpayers have to pay more to offset this loss of revenue. And stores in the area that sell the same products can't compete. This is very similar to the non-Native Americans avoiding their tax responsibilities by shopping at reservation stores.

Currency exchange can be accomplished at any location away from the plaza area.

Jack G. Wood

North Tonawanda


Esmonde is correct on Bass Pro soliciting

I applaud Donn Esmonde for keeping up the common sense drumbeat against both the location and the money giveaways now being proposed for Bass Pro. I supported the original proposal that attempted to make creative use of that venerable old white elephant that is Memorial Auditorium. Back then, using subsidies to fund the necessary hazards abatements and to retrofit an otherwise unusable structure for a creative new use seemed reasonable, especially given the lack of any other significant downtown and waterfront development at that time. But times have changed.

This community fought long and hard and came to a consensus and agreed to a plan to preserve the Erie Canal Terminus and the unique historic integrity of that site. And we did this despite and in spite of the state's exploding rocks theorists and other vision-lacking naysayers.

The Erie Canal Terminus site is not only historically unique, it is now also a hot, precious economic property. The city and the community do not need to go a-begging for businesses at this site of prime canal waterfront land. Certainly not for a big box retailer surrounded by parking ramps! This idea is an abomination and an arrogant affront to the community and the agreed upon history-based plan for smaller scale, 19th century style development.

We can and should pick and choose more carefully. Move Bass Pro and its parking ramps away from the immediate canal site. And let Bass Pro pay for it themselves.

David R. Chudy



Bass Pro is missing a great opportunity

Bass Pro, through its greed, has lost the opportunity to cash in on a winner.

Most Bass Master participants agree that Lake Erie is one of the best bass lakes in the entire United States and Bass Pro had first dibs on the Buffalo deal. Instead, it dilly-dallied. And then it built stores all around this area, making a Buffalo Bass Pro a non-starter.

What could have been a Bass Pro on the best bass lake, is now a best bass lake for Dick's and Cabela's. The Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp. should save its energy and tell Bass Pro to take a hike. Where else can Bass Pro find an ideal location that would showcase their wares on a premiere bass fishery? Nowhere, that's where.

Frank Gugino Sr.

West Seneca


Building a better plaza would benefit residents

I was glad to see an article in The News regarding the waiting game on the Peace Bridge Plaza that the West Side residents are experiencing. As a West Side property owner who is directly affected by this plan, I don't appreciate the delays that have been caused by endless environmental studies and lawsuits, especially by individuals who are not affected. Future community meetings should be limited to West Side residents who are directly affected.

The present proposal of expanding the U.S. plaza eventually will benefit the West Side. Too many houses are deteriorating and the neighborhood is declining. We are forced to deal with slumlords who do not maintain their property and don't require references when renting. In addition, many home owners are in doubt whether to make major repairs.

This waiting game regarding the shared border proposal makes no sense and should be permanently abandoned. Why are we doubting Homeland Security's decision when they have security issues involving that plan?

Why don't we get this show on the road and build a better plaza and a better West Side?

Barbara Battista



Parish life will not improve with closings

Whether it's East Buffalo, Central Buffalo or Southern Cattaraugus vicariates, the Buffalo Diocese has shown scant respect for the input of affected parishioners.

The final decisions bear so little resemblance to the recommendations put forth by the parishioners themselves that many are wondering why they bothered spending months working on reconfiguration proposals, only to have them rejected en masse.

The clusters recommended keeping St. Ann's, St. Adalbert's and Queen of Peace churches open. The diocese instead has opted to close these three architectural masterpieces, as well as the other two churches on Genesee Street, all three in the Clinton-Fillmore neighborhood, all three parishes on Bailey Avenue and several Cattaraugus County churches that were proposed to remain open, leaving some small towns churchless.

Many of us who live on Buffalo's East Side find the suggestion that a more vibrant parish life will result from this process laughable. While the diocese has admitted that it may lose up to 15 percent of its population due to the mergers, already a staggering number, the percentage is likely to be much higher given the widespread rejection of proposals that parish representatives throughout the diocese agonized over.

Charles Penasack



Volker is all wrong on the Bass Pro issue

It was hardly a surprise when, while listening to local newscasts this past week, I repeatedly heard State Sen. Dale Volker stumping for the proposed Bass Pro giveaway at the Buffalo waterfront. Volker justified spending what has been estimated elsewhere at between $25 million and $95 million in taxpayer funds, while gutting the history-based plan for intelligent development of the Erie Canal site by declaring it is so hard to attract downtown investment that the Bass Pro deal is the best we can hope for.

Volker is wrong at every turn here, just as he usually is.

No one can forget his incessant championing of the death penalty for New York State, a penalty abhorrent to most civilized people on the planet and ultimately struck down in court.

The other lasting image of Volker is his suddenly, visibly, jumping on the bandwagon when the 1-90 toll booths were closed, trying to grab credit for something he failed to do, or even attempt, during his 34-year legislative tenure in Albany.

Volker's web site declares that ". . . he is responsible for overseeing major legislative affairs that have a direct impact on the future of the entire Western New York region." Now that we know who is responsible, let's get rid of him before he can cause any further damage to our city, our region and our state.

Brian R. Welsh

East Amherst


Iraq atrocity was caused by Bush and the voters

In 2002, U.S. special forces in Afghanistan had driven al-Qaida to the point of extinction. Then our focus was diverted to an illegal invasion of Iraq, and al-Qaida rebounded. Today, the world may be in more danger than before 9/1 1.

The Bush administration, weak-kneed Congress and American voters are responsible for this catastrophic situation. Too many went to the polls on Nov. 2, 1999 and misused their freedom of suffrage by simply voting on the single issue of abortion instead of fully exploring all the issues and candidates. Research would have shown Bush to be a myopic, vengeful, inflexible bully who claimed an anti-abortion stance, but was by no means pro-life.

An intelligent pro-life president would have never exhibited such an ignorance of history and absence of fore-thought by ordering a pre-emptive attack on the lives of those "born" in Iraq. The result: hundreds of thousands killed or wounded and a nightmarish existence for millions of innocents.

Our irresponsibility as a nation has caused great suffering for our soldiers, their families and others in the world. It is imperative that we approach the 2008 presidential election in a more serious, thoughtful and responsible manner.

Kathleen M. Janish



Pope did not condemn people of other faiths

The comment by a July 21 letter writer in "Pope's agreement is a sad commentary" that the pope denied salvation to all outside the Church and, furthermore, dispatched them to eternal torment is untrue.

One of the greatest achievements of Vatican II was to finally clarify that non-Catholics do enjoy equal eternal rewards and are not automatically condemned to hell for not practicing the Catholic faith.

Anne D. Germeroth



Okun's Eagle review was patently unfair

As a loyal diner of the Eagle House restaurant, I take extreme exception to Janice Okun's review of July 13. Friends, family and I have enjoyed excellent food there for years. I have only had superior steaks and think that the crab cakes served with a lobster sauce are among the best in Western New York. I feel that Okun has done a severe disservice to this fine establishment.

James Josik



Bridge money is better spent on personnel

Writer after writer complains about the time and delays crossing the bridge to or from Canada. Most seem to think that a new signature bridge will "solve" the problem.

Don't these people realize that the most well-designed bridge with untold numbers of lanes will be meaningless, unless Customs personnel manning the booths are increased. That is our problem. Plain and simple.

I would suggest that we instead figure out how a portion of the money that would be spent for a new bridge could be donated to Washington to increase the number of personnel manning booths at bridges here in Western New York.

Forget that pipe dream that all will be fine with just a new designer crossing.

Cheryl Cranston

West Seneca

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