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EVERYBODY'S COLUMN / Letters from our readers

Vatican's action is demeaning to nuns

As a Catholic woman religious, I am saddened by news from Rome that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious has been asked to yield several areas of its decision making to an archbishop from Washington state. As a reasonably well-educated American woman, such a demeaning power move by "corporate executives" to micromanage the work force leads me to thoughts of work stoppage or strike action!

Alas, the two inner voices are not of equal standing. Even if sisters were to say, "enough" and declare a day of no active ministry, we would not be able to follow through with the intention. Our love for the children, the hungry, the illiterate, the prisoners, the abused, the orphaned, the alienated, the immigrants, the mothers, the fathers, the addicted, the elderly, the hospitalized, the dying, the poor and countless others would easily outweigh any thought of action in order to promote our own cause.

Sister Lori High

West Seneca


Vatican crackdown was long overdue

The report of the Vatican ordering a crackdown on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is welcome news. While there are still many good and holy nuns, true to their vocations and the mission of the church, they have been intimidated, muzzled and suffer in silence. The leadership and its partner, Network, have been agitating for years for positions and policies that are more about themselves and their quest for power in the church than the mission for which they took vows. They see the church as oppressive, misogynistic. They insist its moral teachings and doctrines are open to debate and change. The nuns' admirable role in teaching and running hospitals has been heavily compromised by their adopting a liberal, political ideology, which is totally inconsistent with Catholic thinking in matters of life, sexual morality and health care. They defied bishops on the Health and Human Services mandate.

Not only is it astonishing that these women are insulted that their public advocacy for secular and anti-Catholic positions is in question, but very telling that the canon lawyer, who supports Obama policies, says he sees a lot more holiness in the convents than in the chanceries. What? He thinks these women are correct in their rebellion against Catholic doctrine? This degree of collaborative dissent suggests that a reform of the Leadership Conference organization is unlikely. The nun who said religious sisters are moving beyond the church or even beyond Jesus fully knows they have already done so in mind and spirit. They would do the church a service by moving their bodies beyond as well.

Sarah Zilbauer

Grand Island


Vatican hurts itself trying to silence nuns

Will the Vatican begin an inquisition of our nuns? In reference to the recently formed watchdog group to oversee its nuns, the Vatican wants to exert even greater control by silencing the voices of those who work for the love of God and his people; for equality, social justice (yes, health care is part of it) the homeless, hungry and uneducated.

Nuns have made huge contributions to Christianity by working tirelessly across many boundaries and borders, modeling how different cultures, religions and interest groups can live, communicate and work together. Sadly, the more the Vatican tries to control and demonize all it disagrees with, the more irrelevant it becomes.

Janice Panzica



Buffalo must not incur more debt to aid Bills

Thanks to The News for providing the latest on the Buffalo Bills "What's the game plan?" on April 15. At first glance, I thought Bills Chief Executive Officer Russ Brandon was our hero, but after further consideration I realize he is perpetuating a failed mission.

The Buffalo School District spends almost two times the amount in one year that the Bills want for stadium improvements and the high school graduation rate is at 50 percent. We are losing population at a rate unmatched almost anywhere in the country. Owner Ralph Wilson saw some potential in our area long before this new entitlement system in professional sports started. We may be one of the first casualties of this greed mentality.

Corporate welfare will be the straw that broke the camel's back, economically speaking, especially in a region that has already created disastrous, never-ending welfare and entitlement programs. The Bills should know how broke we really are and give up on us once and for all. Kansas City increased county taxes along with increased state aid in order to help fund $400 million in stadium improvements in 2010 and Green Bay increased sales tax and got state funds for a $295 million renovation in 2003. Really? It appears that both of these cities aren't concerned about spending beyond their means, either. We don't need more debt to pay the Bills. Don't get me started on how some of our inept politicians will do anything to keep the Bills here in order to get re-elected.

Tom Colligan



Out with old stadium and in with a new one

There has been a lot of talk regarding changes to Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Buffalo Bills have evaluated three possible options for the Ralph: renovating the current stadium, retrofitting the current stadium, or building a new stadium downtown. The Bills have decided on a $200 million renovation as the best option.

But the Ralph is 40 years old. It is more than just old-fashioned; it is outdated. It lacks certain amenities -- luxury boxes, adequate number of restrooms and concessions, etc. And it is located far outside of our city. Making periodic renovations to this facility is only prolonging the inevitable -- building a new stadium.

It is in the region's best interest to build a new stadium in downtown Buffalo, at an projected cost of $800 million. It does not make sense to continuously invest $200 million to renovate an outdated building. It's like sinking money into an old broken-down car. You reach a point where buying a new car is more financially sound than paying for endless, expensive repairs.

Also, building a stadium downtown could stimulate our economy. The new stadium would create multiple jobs -- construction, concessions, security, maintenance -- many of which could go to residents of the city, where unemployment rates are by far the highest. Downtown Buffalo on a Sunday afternoon looks like a deserted ghost town. A new stadium could help downtown come alive. The money would be put back into our city, where it needs to go.

Gretchen Sullivan



Teachers fighting a hopeless battle

It is a shame that events in the Buffalo School District have come to such an impasse; teachers are excoriated left and right, and respect has been tossed out the window. New York State demands that all teachers be held accountable for all of their students' test scores, regardless of whether those students have even been in the classroom.

It has been argued that teachers have an influence over how relevant their students view school and class to be, and while this is undoubtedly true, the influence can at best be indirect. It beggars reason that teachers should be held so accountable, and we should remember solely accountable for there are no corresponding accountability measures being initiated for parents or the community at large, for factors beyond any individual teacher's direct control.

And yet, the teacher union is probably fighting a hopeless battle. The body politic and public opinion have so turned against the teachers that even should they by some means win victory on this issue, it will be at best a Pyrrhic victory. The atmosphere has been so poisoned that I fear the only choice the union has, as wrong as it may be, will be to bow on this point.

What is missing from all the words poured out by union leaders, politicians, administrators and community leaders these days is a willingness to truly listen, to acknowledge the other side. I believe that the Buffalo teachers' position, while most likely a losing one in the end, is a perfectly just and reasonable position. I also believe that only by everyone stepping back, taking a deep breath and committing to a culture of mutual respect and listening will the district be able to move forward. Given the many years that Buffalo's teachers have been attacked and belittled, it will fall upon the outside community to take the initiative.

Todd Mitchell



Waterfront must be accessible to public

For more than a generation now, the residents of Western New York have had limited access to one of our most treasured assets, our waterfront. I want to stress the word "our" because this prime location should not be forfeited to future private developers without first ensuring free public accessibility for recreational use and enjoyment.

In Hawaii, state officials were concerned that private land developers and independently wealthy people would purchase the prime waterfront properties, thereby restricting public access and recreation. As a result, officials passed legislation protecting and guaranteeing public access to virtually all oceanfront property and beaches. This is true on all of the islands in Hawaii. Although there are many exclusive oceanfront hotels there, all of the beaches in front of them are free and open to the public.

I agree with Rep. Brian Higgins that the NFTA should never have been given control over the outer harbor. Its past unwillingness to surrender control over this land has certainly contributed to the lack of development there. Control of this land should be immediately transferred to those entrusted with developing our waterfront.

I am not averse to private development on our waterfront. My concern is what will happen if and when private developers gain control of this land? I think the solution is to have a public-private agreement that ensures free public access to and use of this property regardless of what private construction takes place there. We have all waited too long to have public access restricted or denied by the construction of the likes of million-dollar condominiums and private yacht clubs with restricted parking.

Arnold J. DiScipio



Why would we want the GOP in control?

Mitt Romney says we should vote Republicans into office this fall since they know better how to run our economy. Now let's see, when the Republicans last had control, the Dow Jones industrial average was at 6,500. Now we have a Democratic administration and the Dow is at 13,000. Under the Republicans we were losing 600,000 jobs per month. Now we are gaining 200,000 jobs per month.

And we're supposed to return control to the Republicans? Am I missing something?

Carl Jacobs