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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Catholics disillusioned with Church hierarchy

Perhaps the declining attendance at Catholic churches falls into line with the disenchantment of the populace with the ruling structure, as it is with our local and national governments. Out-of-touch ranking clergy, with the same old message of give money, play bingo, disregard my behavior and tsk tsk at your behavior, can enhance disillusion. The vibrancy and community that once was is hard to find. But it is there, it just takes a lot of searching. And some Catholics can find it more readily in other Christian churches.

If the Catholic hierarchy asked some of the "fallen away" Catholics what they miss most of Catholicism, it would probably be the Eucharist. I have attended many different churches and the only one I see people leaving early, sometimes in droves, is at a Catholic Mass. And the parking lots are not so full that you have to leave early to beat the crowd.

Alice Miller



Buffalo Diocese has lost touch with parishioners

I am a staunch Catholic and attend weekly Mass without fail, and my daughters attend Catholic school. With that being said, as I read the article, "Mass exodus confounds diocese," I had to chuckle to myself. The very title of the article indicates the reason the exodus is occurring. The Diocese of Buffalo, and to a larger extent the Catholic Church, has lost touch with the needs and desires of its parishioners. All one has to do is to look at the non-denominational churches such as The Chapel or the Wesleyan churches to determine that when sermons are pertinent to today's issues, and the connection between church and parishioner is maintained and fostered, people will attend, become active in their parish and fill the church pews. For far too long, the Catholic Church has ignored what is happening in society and has been deficient in training those in charge in how to address these issues.

I am not saying that the Church should deviate from its precepts, however, it must be made more pertinent to our everyday lives. Because of the above issues, attendance continues to decline, thereby necessitating the closure of parishes and Catholic schools. Being very involved with a Catholic school for many years that was closed last year, it was clear that most of the families that attended the school were those that attended weekly Mass. When Mass attendance dropped, enrollment waned and the school closure quickly followed. With fewer Catholic schools, we will continue to experience a shortage of priests, since most potential priests attend Catholic schools. The domino effect is very clear. If the Church is to survive and thrive, it must change the manner in which it acts, accepts, preaches and ministers.

Robert N. Brennan

North Tonawanda


Many men are striving to be faithful Catholics

In response to The News article lamenting the fall of the Catholic Church in Western New York, I will tell you that the Western New York Catholic Men's Conference on April 9 was a huge success. A thousand men, from preteens to their 90s, heard from speakers including Mike McCoy, a former NFL player, and Jesse Romero, a retired law enforcement officer and martial arts champion. We were reminded of what a Catholic man is called to be. We didn't discuss numbers or parish closings, only what we ourselves can do. A faithful Catholic man is focused and stoic. He follows the rules of the Church. He's the head of the family, even when his family disagrees. He accepts being ostracized or misunderstood. He will do good deeds and be a community member. He will give his fair share, without fanfare. He will make the tough choices, not the popular ones. He will support his priests, but demand they be faithful. He will evangelize without being condescending. He will lead by example.

A truly Catholic man may screw up, but never give up. He will forgive and be forgiven. He will do less judging and more loving. He will respect other people's religions and points of view, but will not compromise his values. He will right any wrongs he has done in his life. He will pray fervently. And he will remember, especially this week, that a man named Peter denied Christ three times. Peter repented, and became the first pope. If enough Catholic men live this way, then our future, in Western New York and everywhere, will be just fine.

Michael Palko



New UB president is being paid too much

When I saw the headline touting the huge pay increase that the new University at Buffalo president is slated to receive, I nearly lost my breakfast. You have got to be kidding me! UB is a publicly owned institution, and as such receives a large majority of its operating funds from many government sources, and all are broke. At all levels of government -- local, state and federal -- we are being forced to cut back many services and personnel.

UB is setting a very poor example of trying to be frugal when it increases the salary of its new president. I have a very difficult time understanding how anyone, especially those in the public sector, can justify being paid more than the president of the United States -- who earns a respectable $400,000 per year. I'm certain that UB could find many qualified candidates who would accept a much lower pay scale.

Michael G. Zelie



Salary is inappropriate for a public university

I was shocked to learn that the salary of the new University at Buffalo President Satish Tripathi will be $650,000 annually. Then, I did not know whether to laugh or cry at SUNY Board Chairman Carl Hayden's claim that Tripathi deserved the money because he is overqualified. Give me a break! This kind of largess stinks and is completely inappropriate for a public university.

Sadly, Tripathi's acceptance of this salary tarnishes his tenure as UB president right from the start. He is demonstrating personal greed at a time of severe fiscal austerity. Worse, while Tripathi shovels all that cash into his bank account, many UB students are struggling to pay for their education, and graduates can't find work. Moreover, it looks like business interests have weighed in heavily to obtain a new university president whose primary qualification appears to be continued commitment to UB 2020, a potential gravy train of corporate profits if its fantasy of a giant campus build-out becomes a reality.

A few years ago, I retired from UB after serving 26 years as university energy officer and director of the UB Green Office. I left because UB's former president, John Simpson, was so enamored by his magnificent obsession -- UB 2020 -- that he and his single-minded entourage were clueless about other critically important issues including energy and environmental conservation. In a few short years, they squandered UB's reputation as a national green campus leader.

UB 2020 has been a steamroller on campus and oversold to the wider community. Tripathi's outrageous salary serves as a red flag signaling UB's misplaced priorities.

Walter Simpson



How can officials be so callous about deer?

In an attempt to escape the Williamsville Cemetery on Main Street when people or automobiles pass through, the deer jumping over the pointed fence continue to be painfully impaled on the spikes. Williamsville says there is nothing it can do because the fence is historic. Now really, because of a historic fence the village will allow one deer after another to suffer needlessly? There is nothing that can be put over those spikes that would save unnecessary suffering?

Every week or so, I see people being charged with cruelty to dogs and cats, yet the village is allowed such insensitive treatment of the deer. For me, it just shows how twisted and callous our society continues to be.

Hal Miller Sr.



Deer more important than a 'historic' fence

It is ironic to see all of the precautions being put in place to make sure the solitary deer "protecting" the goose in its nest in Forest Lawn is safe, while allowing other beautiful deer to be impaled upon another cemetery's iron fence. Those poor animals die a horrible death, writhing on the sharp fence points, taking an agonizingly long time to die. The problem could be solved easily, but it seems like people are more interested in maintaining a pretty fence than saving these gentle creatures. To paraphrase a scripture: If you do it to the least of creatures, you do it to me.

Fay Esan



Conviction should void Hevesi's public pension

What Alan Hevesi did was disgraceful. The article on the front page of the April 16 News failed to mention that this scandalous former comptroller, who betrayed the public trust as an elected official, will still get to keep his $105,221 public pension.

Isn't there something wrong here? I certainly don't want to give criminals a pension, and that is exactly what Hevesi is, a criminal. If you break the law while in public office, all benefits should cease. If the average citizen stole from his employer, would he get to keep his benefits and pension? I don't think so.

Pamela Forge



Time to throw the book at corrupt politicians

I want to add my opinion to the April 16 article concerning Alan Hevesi going to jail for one to four years for his role in the New York State pension scandal. Hevesi should be in jail for a minimum of four years. My reasoning is that politicians of both parties should realize that they cannot use their positions in government to enrich themselves at taxpayers' expense.

There should be a healthy fear among politicians to not do the illegal thing. My opinion remains the same for Joseph Bruno, who was convicted of corruption. In addition, I would recommend that if a politician is convicted, he should not spend his time in a country-club type prison, but in a maximum-security prison.

David Grzybowski



China and India play role in global warming

I wanted to comment on "Generation Hot" on page one of the April 17 Viewpoints section. To write an article this long on global warming without mentioning the effect of unregulated pollution from the industrialization of countries such as China and India is either ignorant or irresponsible. The reader is led to believe the Republican Party is all that stands in the way of our children's safe future. I wouldn't have bothered at all to read this piece except for the fact that my well-thought-out day of golfing with the boys was canceled due to a snowstorm. (You see the irony here, right?)

Christopher Beck


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