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Everybody's Column / Letters from our readers

Letter about Catholic Church contained misconceptions

My dismay compelled me to respond to the Sept. 4 letter writer who declared: "The Catholic Church is thriving and doing well." Her only evidence? The 800,000 youths who went to Germany last month to see the pope. The sad truth is that these youths heard the pope endorse the same philosophies of rigidity and exclusion that are driving Catholics away in droves. The facts are impossible to ignore. Attendance at Mass is down 60 percent over the past 30 years, as is attendance at Catholic schools. The seminaries are virtually empty, and parishes are closing. I would hardly categorize the Church as "thriving."

The second, and more disturbing part of her letter, inexplicably shifts to the sexual crimes committed by priests. She suggests that "if we are to point a finger at the sexual misconduct crimes of the church, we should study the statistics of this terrible crime." If she had taken her own advice, she would have learned that the John Jay College report on sexual abuse by the Catholic Church found that over the past 50 years, there was documentation of nearly 11,000 victims and more than 4,000 offenders. Disturbingly, only 2 to 3 percent of the abusers were ever brought to justice. Her comments reeked of the same ignorant mind-set as those who covered for the accused -- the mind-set that has caused me to cease to be a Catholic.

Anthony Petrocelli



Iraqi civilians are dying because of our invasion

Since we recently commemorated those who died in the 9/1 1 tragedy, I think we should also remember the Iraqi civilians who died during our invasion, and are still dying. Why? Because although President Bush has given mixed signals on this issue, he maintains that we went to Iraq "to fight the terrorists there rather than here." Thus he established a linkage between 9/1 1 and Saddam Hussein. As a result, we are responsible for the deaths of thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians. Would it be asking too much to remember them next September?

Chet Mais



Reynolds has launched a purely political attack

Outrageous. That is the only word to describe the behavior of Rep. Tom Reynolds, who let fly with a misleading and erroneous attack on his congressional colleague in the Sept. 9 News. Reynolds' claim that Rep. Brian Higgins "opposed aid to Katrina victims" was an exemplification of precisely what is wrong with politics: Rather than coming together to fix a problem that is as clear as the nose on a person's face, Reynolds decides to take a political cheap shot.

The simple fact is that Higgins is someone who is making things happen here in Western New York. After so many years of inaction on all levels of government, isn't it refreshing to have someone who is forcing elected officials and bureaucrats to be accountable for their actions? I call on residents to reject the divisive politics that Reynolds is pushing.

The truth is that Higgins voted for $51 billion in hurricane relief. While I condemn Reynolds for his attacks, I commend The News for telling the whole story.

Joan Bean

West Seneca


Israel's right to exist is unquestionable

Elinor Weiss's Sept. 12 Another Voice about possible anti-Semitism at the University at Buffalo set my mind reeling. I am a Catholic who is tired of Israel being blamed for the tumult in the Mideast.

Israel occupies only 1/6 90 of the land in the Mideast. Although the word "Jerusalem" is not mentioned once in the Koran, Muslims claim that city as their third holiest, after Mecca and Medina, while Palestinians insist that the West Bank is theirs by divine fiat. If Arab Muslims are so sympathetic to the Palestinian cause, why doesn't Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia or Jordan offer a little bit of their land for the nascent Palestinian nation? The truth is, Palestinians are considered second-class citizens by the rest of the Arab world.

Israel is the only nation in world history to have its very right to exist continually questioned. Indeed, the Palestinian charter, until recently, contained a provision that called for the destruction of the Zionist state. Not even Germany, after the atrocities of World War II, had its right to exist questioned. Do Israel's shrill detractors really believe that its destruction would bring peace to the Mideast? Get real, people.

Robert L. O'Brian



News political stories should be balanced

Let me begin by stating that I am a conservative Republican. I also am very disappointed with Gov. George Pataki. I applaud The News for the Sept. 12 article, "What happened to Pataki's promise for Falls?"

However, are we also going to see a frontpage article, "What happened to Hillary Clinton's promise of 200,000 jobs for state?" It seems to me that any article critical of a Republican is front page news yet any critical of a liberal Democrat is way in the back of the paper, if at all. The same applies to any article lauding a liberal Democrat -- it is front page news, but if it's lauding a conservative Republican, it's way in the back.

To become a more credible newspaper, The News needs to report in an unbiased manner. Being the only paper in town, this would seem to me to be an obligation that The News should take very seriously.

H. Blake Brant



Bush clan fails to grasp working-class plight

Last month, George W. Bush said that losing the lives of our young people in Iraq is worth it. But he wouldn't face Cindy Sheehan and tell her to her face that the loss of her son was worth it.

Last week, it was Barbara Bush's turn to put her foot in her mouth. Some of the people in Louisiana, rich or poor, lost all they had. Everything they owned is gone. How can she possibly say that because they were underprivileged, things in the Astrodome are working very well for them?

The Bushes are so out of focus regarding how the rest of the people in this country live. They can't comprehend what it's like to struggle to earn a living; to cherish what the average American works hard to get; to cling to possessions no matter how meager. They can't see beyond their ivory towers.

Edward J. Ruszala



Blacks need to focus on self-improvement

We as African-Americans should focus on our own race. How can we criticize others when we are killing ourselves? It is ridiculous that we can't live peacefully among ourselves, and that envy and hate seem to be the leading factor in our own people. It's sad that we show so much resentment toward one another instead of being ecstatic in our own success and prosperity.

Food for thought: What effective role are the politicians and clergy playing in the community? With the important positions they have, it seems the emphasis is on their fancy cars instead of stopping drug dealers and helping drug addicts, the homeless and the elderly.

And parents, where are you? It's time to get involved with your children's lives. Our kids are the future. What are parents doing to make positive things happen? The future will be bleak if our kids are in jail cells.

Delores M. Bradley


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