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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN

Catholic Church engages in great works of charity

The recent decision of The News to print two letters, both disparaging commentaries concerning the Catholic Church, gravely disappoints me and no doubt thousands of others. It seems The News wants to take a poke at Christianity during its most holy time of the year.

The Catholic Church is a large institution and therefore is vulnerable to many cheap shots. It has been in existence from day one. It is also the "gold standard" for the world concerning family, morality, human rights and other virtues. It never shies from speaking out about injustices. The 33,000 world Protestant denominations "pick and choose" from the Catholic model and decide if it fits their needs. Why are there so many Protestant denominations? Probably because they cannot agree with each other on finer points of our faith. I am not attacking Protestants here, just stating a fact.

The Catholic Church engages in great works of charity worldwide. It is also one of the few churches that prays that some day all Christians will be one in their faith in Jesus Christ. That was Jesus' hope as written in the Gospel of John. Catholic means universal and, yes, we believe in one holy Catholic apostolic church." No man is perfect and no church is perfect. Whether Catholic or Protestant, we would all do well to pray for our priests and ministers and to remember the words of our late pope, John Paul II: Christ's church is on a journey, constantly moving toward holiness.

John Vinti

Orchard Park

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Time to put people ahead of Wall Street interests

M&T CEO Robert G. Wilmers' comment that the government is spending too much on health care and Social Security is a prime example of Wall Street's influence on the GOP. We didn't hear any CEOs complaining about how much money the government spent bailing out the banks and financial institutions.

If the government is financially unable to pay for programs that the people of this nation depend on to survive, then it is time to generate more income to support these programs. It is time for the wealthy to share the pain and pay more taxes. It is time for elected officials to take pay cuts and pay for their health care just as they want union workers to do. It is time to cut military spending and end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is time for the government to start representing the people, not Wall Street.

David M. McNamara

Buffalo

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Letter assailing Muslims only furthers the divide

In his letter asking Muslims to be more tolerant, the writer demonstrates to me a kind of exceptionalist intolerance. While he notes that "we live in a free society where citizens are allowed to express themselves," he seems unaware that most of the world does not share these freedoms, and that societies around the world function very differently.

While we cherish our individual freedoms, many other cultures mold their citizens to be more reliant on group identity. In matters of religion, such group identity trumps logic or reason. What seems right or proper in one culture may be offensive or illegal in another.

It is ironic that anyone in America decides to lecture Muslims on tolerance. How quickly we forget -- or did we never know? -- that Muslims did not launch the Crusades, that Muslims did not have an Inquisition, or that throughout history Muslim lands provided refuge for great numbers of Jews driven out by European conquests and pogroms. In so many ways since its inception, Islam has been more tolerant than Christianity. It is offensive to me to hear someone telling Muslims of the world to "grow up and act like adults, not spoiled children," making a generalized statement, using a thoughtless simile that can only raise emotions and cause further divisions among peoples.

We non Muslims can be just as hateful in our rhetoric as anyone else. We have our share of extremists who manipulate the masses and incite irrational and sometimes violent acts. Rather than criticizing "the other," let us focus our energies on understanding people who are different from us, and on affirming the inherent worth and dignity of all people.

John Rex III

Buffalo

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City schools should look for new superintendent

Maybe Superintendent James Williams should look in the mirror. Then he will see where the problem is with the school system. We once had vocational schools, such as Seneca Vocational High School, which he turned into a science and math school. Now he says we need expanded opportunities for vocational education. Maybe it's time to change superintendents to someone who knows what's going on.

Randy Kowal

Buffalo

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Give-and-take essential for board and teachers

If the teachers union wants the city to lift the residency requirement, then it should offer up the cosmetic surgery rider. This is called negotiation, folks. The School Board needs to learn how to make deals. That is what board members were elected for. I am surely sick of seeing larger class sizes and athletics, foreign language and programs for the gifted and talented cut when teachers are getting face lifts and stomach tucks at the cost of millions to the taxpayers.

Has anyone heard of what is going on in Wisconsin, New Jersey and Ohio? The union needs to understand that the state is broke and people like me are sick of paying health benefits to employees that are much better than I receive at my job. This should be a win for all, and especially the inner-city students, because that is what it is about, right Phil Rumore? I am sure the students would rather have smaller class sizes and more attention than their instructor looking younger.

Tom Ciocca

Amherst

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Many disabled people are looking for work

I read The News article regarding McDonald's hiring and I feel that's great, though it doesn't pay very well. What struck me as odd was that the article gave a list of potential workers: parents who look for something to do during school hours, the elderly looking to supplement their incomes, and children. What I didn't see was anything about the hiring of disabled people. You don't necessarily need to be blind, hearing impaired or wheelchair bound to be disabled.

It's no wonder that of those Americans with disabilities who can work, only 30 percent are employed. We have a ton of lawyers fighting for SSI/SSDI benefits for the disabled, but no one who will fight job discrimination. I know this because I am disabled, and I was once fired for this reason. It's shameful that employers turn a blind eye to those who could end up saving them money (tax credits). I work, but I want something more gratifying than what I do.

Russell J. Fowler

Jamestown

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