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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN

Catholic Church needs to focus on word of God

As a former Catholic, I find the statement by Sr. Regina Murphy: "We're becoming more secular, less religious. It's a societal thing," confirmation that the Catholic Church is distant from Christ's teachings. I left the Church after growing up attending Catholic grade school, actively participating in my college's Newman parish and returning to my parish in Western New York as lector. I attended Mass weekly, and for years I attended daily Mass trying to fill a void in my life.

It wasn't until I opened my Bible and read for myself the word of God that I realized I could not find what was missing in my life by subscribing to a set of laws and rituals created by man. It couldn't be found in a personal relationship with my priest, who never took the time to learn my name, or in a personal relationship with that person in the pew ahead of me who left before the end of the closing hymn. It would only be found in Christ.

Until the Catholic Church reaches people at the fundamental teaching of the word of God, it will continue to lose parishioners. People are seeking to fill a hole that only Jesus Christ can fill. Today, society makes it easy to find secular fulfillment. Until the Catholic Church awakens and realizes that its enforcement of laws created by man (the Vatican) is estranging God's children, it will continue to have a weak effect on society. Catholicism is not spreading the word of God, but a series of laws created by man. When people are more apt to not eat meat on Friday than to keep the Sabbath holy, there is a fundamental issue that seems readily easy to address: Return to the word.

Katherine E. Callesto

East Aurora

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Government officials playing dangerous game

I was more than a little surprised that The News could find only a highly misleading article by Associated Press writer Paul Wiseman about S&P's lowering the U.S. credit rating. (Not counting the warning about bonds in the business section.) The fault lies not so much in what Wiseman says as what he doesn't say.

Everyone in the financial world -- Financial Times, The Economist, etc. -- knows that S&P's intended message has less to do with deficit reduction (per se) than with the game of financial "chicken" being played by the GOP in the House and the Obama administration.

Namely, the threat by the former to refuse to raise the U.S. debt ceiling. This is a very dangerous game, because there is at least the possibility that the United States might be forced into default. And it might not be able to meet interest payments.

Doug A. Aerie

Buffalo

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Parents should ensure children get vaccinated

April 23 to 30 has been designated National Infant Immunization Week. For most children, getting their shots is simply a rite of passage. However, the near eradication of once common and often deadly diseases has left a number of parents wondering if their children still need to receive their shots, and if the perceived risks of vaccinations are worth the benefits.

There are a variety of reasons parents do not have their children vaccinated. Some lack insurance. Others are afraid of risking side effects. Cultural differences may foster an inherent distrust of vaccinations, and residency status makes some immigrant families fearful of going to the doctor. However, getting children their required shots is one of the best things parents can do to protect their children's health.

For many parents the issue is an inherent distrust of the safety of vaccines. A decade-old study indicated a link between the common measles, mumps and rubella vaccine and the increased prevalence of autism. This study was recently medically discredited. Numerous studies and many years of experience with millions of children have demonstrated that modern vaccines are safe and effective and critically important to maintaining public health. The medical community has seen a recent increase in contagious diseases that were once controlled through vaccinations. With modern means of travel, infected individuals can spread a contagious disease across the nation, or around the world very quickly. Parents need to do their part to ensure that their children are protected, and to keep these diseases in check.

Almost every child in the state is entitled to free or low-cost health insurance coverage through New York State's Child Health Plus program, which covers checkups and all required vaccinations, regardless of family income. I encourage all parents to ensure that their child's vaccinations are up to date.

Sanjiv Shah, M.D.

Chief Medical Officer

Fidelis Care

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'Something So Right' was great performance

My friends and I had the privilege of seeing the fabulous performance of "Something So Right," a tribute to Paul Simon, on April 17 at the University at Buffalo Center for the Arts. The director, Randall Kramer; choreographer, Jon Lehrer (marvelous dancers); and musical director/arranger Jason Bravo, a local young man with talent in his fingers (piano) and voice, are all to be commended for a show of this caliber in Buffalo.

It is a story concept and musical artistic collaboration that is truly unique. The thunderous applause from the audience attested to the beauty and originality of this show. This type of presentation puts Buffalo in the top area of shows, such as the Broadway venues in New York City. Congratulations to the Center for the Arts and the great cast of this show.

Marian Barnes

West Seneca

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Palestinian children being victimized, too

In an April 14 letter to the editor, a writer wonders why there isn't more outrage expressed over the April 7 Hamas mortar attack in southern Israel that left a bus driver and a 13-year-old boy critically injured. Because most caring and civilized individuals become distraught whenever the lives of children are needlessly endangered, the writer's plea for international censure seems sincere and justifiable.

However, judging by the tone of the letter, one is troubled over the possibility that the writer's understandable concern for Jewish children in Israel does not properly extend to Muslim and Christian Palestinian children as well, despite the undisputed fact that many Palestinian civilians, including children, have been killed by acts of terrorism.

When the writer goes on to attack the well-documented Goldstone Report, the letter becomes even more dubious. Under attack even before it was completed, the extraordinary document dared to report on terrorist activities carried on by both Israelis and Palestinians. Goldstone, once instrumental in bringing an end to South African apartheid, is convinced that only a "complete" fact-finding study, one that insists on accountability, will encourage a long-awaited end to the suffering of victimized children in the Middle East.

Norm Tederous

Williamsville